The Man Who Wrestled Global Hunger To The Ground

By Jarrett Skorup
Mackinac Center for Public Policy
In the winters, I spend my time officiating high school wrestling. Last year, while going through my pre-meet duties, I noticed a wrestler with the last name Borlaug. I asked him if he knew who Norman Borlaug was and was delighted to learn that wrestler was his great-nephew.

Wrestling must be in the family blood, because Norman Borlaug was an accomplished high school and college wrestler who helped expand the popularity of sport at the high school level in Minnesota. (He also worked as a referee). He was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The coach of Borlaug’s great nephew, a high school civics and history teacher, overheard our conversation and asked, “Who’s Norman Borlaug?”

That’s a typical response whenever I mention him. In fact, I didn’t learn of him until after completing my college degree. It’s a shame how few people know the name or the remarkable achievements of the man who took action to feed the world’s population at a time when much of the scientific establishment believed we were on the verge of an inevitable global famine.

Called “arguably the greatest American in the 20th century,” Norman Borlaug probably saved more lives during his 95 years than any other person. He is one of just six people to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. And yet Dr. Borlaug, who died in 2009, is scarcely known in his own country.

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