The World Food Prize Foundation

25th Anniversary Timeline

1970: Borlaug awarded Nobel Peace Prize Over 1,400 people from 75 countries attended the 2011 Borlaug Dialogue. Pictured here is the African Roundtable.


1970 Norman Borlaug receives the Nobel Peace Prize for his work feeding a hungry world.
1985 Norman Borlaug secures initial sponsorship for the "Prize." A Council of Advisors created.
1986 The “General Foods World Food Prize” is announced in May at the General Foods World Headquarters in Rye Brook, New York. Mr. Saul Bass designs commemorative sculpture. The sphere represents the world, the leaf is food, and the bowl represents nourishment.
1987 Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, considered the Father of the Indian Green Revolution, is announced as the first World Food Prize Laureates at a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C., with entertainment by John Denver. The first one-day symposium is held.
1989 Philip Morris acquires Kraft and merges with General Foods—sponsorship of “the Prize” ends. On December 15th the New York Times writes a story about the World Food Prize losing its funding, which is picked up by the Des Moines Register, prompting an editorial that in effect said “Why don’t we, the people of Iowa, the bread basket of the world, rescue this Prize just as the King of Sweden rescued the Nobel Prize when Nobel’s family upon his death wanted to renege on his will.”
1990 John Ruan rescues the World Food Prize, announcing his sponsorship of The World Food Prize to start the following year, in front of Norman Borlaug and the joint sessions of the houses of the Iowa Legislature. It is the beginning of a private-public partnership to support the Prize in Iowa
1990 A ceremony to introduce the World Food Prize in Iowa is held, with the new Laureate John Niederhauser, recognized for his role improving resistance to disease in potatoes.
1991 The first award ceremony is held in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Nevin Scrimshaw was honored for over six decades in fighting protein iodine and iron deficiencies, and developing nutritional supplements that improved millions of lives.
1994 The World Food Prize Foundation’s Global Youth Institute is created with participation from 14 Iowa high school student-teacher teams.
1998 The Borlaug-Ruan International Internship program first created, sending two students abroad, one to Kenya, and one to Mexico.
2000 The first female laureate is honored: Dr. Evangelina Villegas, named along with Dr. Surinder Vasal, for their work in Quality Protein Maize. Amb. Kenneth M. Quinn assumes leadership of the World Food Prize
2002 The first Borlaug Day in Iowa is proclaimed by the Iowa Governor and Legislature, and continues through three governors to present day. Grammy-winner Ray Charles performs at the Laureate Award Ceremony. The Lecture Series begins with 10 presentations.
2004 The Laureate Award Ceremony is televised across Iowa for the first time on Iowa Public Television. The first out of state youth program is held in Ohio at The Ohio State University
2005 The Borlaug Dialogue symposium is extended to three days.
2007 Norman Borlaug receives the Congressional Gold Medal, and becomes one of only three Americans to have received this award, the presidential Medal of Freedom, and a Nobel Peace Prize. The others are Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Elie Wiesel. The first ever Iowa Hunger Summit is held.
2008 Clay Mathile helps fulfill Dr. Borlaug's last wish – that students in every high school in America have the opportunity to explore global food security issues - by funding the national expansion of the World Food Prize youth programs.
2009 Norman Borlaug passes away at the age of 95. The Borlaug Dialogue symposium attracts Bill Gates, who gives his first speech on agriculture at the event.
2010 John Ruan passes away at the age of 96. His son, John Ruan III, continues his legacy as chairman of the World Food Prize. Kofi Annan, former Secretary-General of the United Nations, speaks at the Borlaug Dialogue. U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack partners with the World Food Prize to create the Wallace-Carver Internship program .
2011 The Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium now draws over 1,400 people per year from 75 countries and has been called "the premier conference in the world on global agriculture."
2011 The Norman E. Borlaug World Food Prize Hall of Laureates is completed and opened to the public.


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