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Statue in U.S. Capitol Honors Iowa’s Legendary Biosciences Innovator

March 26, 2014

A seven-foot tall bronze statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug was installed at the U.S. Capitol's National Statuary Hall yesterday. Dr. Borlaug, a plant scientist from Cresco, Iowa, is credited with pioneering agricultural innovations that have saved a billion lives in food insecure regions of the world.

A wide array of Iowans led by Governor Terry Branstad and Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds traveled to Washington, D.C., to join Iowa’s Congressional delegation at the dedication ceremony honoring Dr. Borlaug. The historic event was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Dr. Borlaug’s birth.

Norm, as he always wanted to be called, began his work as a research scientist enhancing wheat production in Mexico during the 1940s when wheat rust disease was wiping out crops. He and his team developed stable and disease-resistant wheat varieties adaptable to a variety of growing conditions.

The new plant varieties, combined with Norm’s work with farmers to improve crop management practices, dramatically increased crop yields in Mexico, and later in other struggling regions around the world. Norm’s achievements transformed agricultural production worldwide earning him recognition as “Father of the Green Revolution,” a reference to technological advances in agriculture aimed at alleviating world hunger.

He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry and growing world population. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1977) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2007), America’s highest civilian honor. He founded the World Food Prize in 1986 to recognize individuals who have contributed to improving the world’s food supply in a sustainable and nutritious way, and to annually shine a spotlight on the critical importance of agriculture.

Dr. Borlaug is one of the many bioscience innovators who have called Iowa home. Iowa has experienced immense growth in the bioscience industry in recent years, seeing large facility expansions from global leaders like POET, Cargill, DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

Over the past ten years, Iowa has made a focused investment in the bioscience industry with $81 million in direct financial assistance to nearly 200 bioscience projects across the state. These projects have generated $10.9 billion in total capital investment and have created or retained 10,000 jobs across the state.

Public-private partnerships between state and federal government, private industry and world-class research institutions have created new directions for the industry and have helped the state’s bioscience companies compete on a global scale.

The World Food Prize Foundation has grown over the years to now also include a "Borlaug Dialogue" international symposium that each year brings over 1,500 research, business and government leaders from 65 countries to Des Moines to discuss cutting-edge issues in food security, and we are proud to have contributed to building global connections and to these marvelous economic gains for our state. If Norm could see all of these ongoing investments in agriculture and innovation, I know he would be smiling, and proud of his home state of Iowa. -Ambassador Kenneth M. Quinn, president, The World Food Prize Foundation



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