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Iowa Rep. Tom Latham Pays Tribute to Dr. Borlaug

World Food Prize Founder Norman Borlaug

MARCH 20, 2008 - On the occassion of Dr. Norman Borlaug's upcoming 94th birthday on March 25, Iowa Congressman Tom Latham devoted his weekly "Latham Report" to Dr. Borlaug. LISTEN

Dr. Boraug: An Iowa Inspiration

By Iowa Congressman Tom Latham

Many things grow in Iowa, but few things grow to become as inspirational as Dr. Norman Borlaug.

We give him credit for starting the "Green Revolution."

We praise him for saving the lives of millions.

We honor him for his efforts that have led to political stability in international politics.

All this… from wheat. All this… from Iowa.

We don’t find him inspirational because he was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. No… we find him inspirational because he has always made his health and fitness a priority... enough so that his football, baseball and wrestling in high school opened doors for him when going to college.

Maybe we draw our inspiration from him because he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest award a civilian can get from the President of the United States?

I’d like to think that instead, we’d draw our inspiration from this fellow-Iowan because of his commitment to education. Norman Borlaug finished his undergraduate studies with a bachelor's of science in forestry, and two years later earned his master's degree in plant pathology. He continued his education and went on to earn his doctorate three years later. He understood when his grandfather said, “You’re wiser to fill your head now if you want to fill your belly later on.”

His dedication to education is inspirational.

Should we be inspired by his Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award that Congress can bestow upon a citizen?

Perhaps, but we should also be inspired by his commitment to his field of study, his research in genetics, plant pathology, plant breeding, entomology, agronomy, and soil science.

We should be inspired by the scores of scientists he trained and the 16 years he spent in Mexico working to find a high-yielding short-strawed, disease-resistant wheat.

Some would say we should find inspiration in the fact that he won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I don’t know, but I do know we should be inspired by the fact that his discovery helped feed millions of starving people. This new access to food kept millions of people from starvation, helped stabilize international politics and led to an increase in the standard of living for Americans… and people all over the world.

The awards we collect will always remain as hallmarks to our achievements. But our contributions, to ourselves and to others, have the power to make a difference in people's lives.

As we mark Dr. Borlaug's birthday on March 25th… I hope we can share in the important—and inspirational—lessons he has to teach. His actions inspire me… I hope they inspire you.

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