The World Food Prize Foundation

First Ever Norman Borlaug Medallion Presented to His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand


September 18, 2007 - World Food Prize Honors HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand

“Development King” Receives Award from Former Iowa Governor
UPDATED: September 18, 2007

King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand has received the first ever Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion, awarded by the World Food Prize Foundation. The medallion was presented by Hon. Robert D. Ray, former Governor of Iowa, on July 23 at the Royal Palace in Thailand.


The Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion is intended as a special honor to be presented to individuals at the highest levels of the international world who would not normally be considered for the World Food Prize, but who have provided exceptional humanitarian service in reducing hunger and poverty. The medallion is named in honor of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, who founded The World Food Prize in 1986.

“Since his accession to the throne in 1946, King Bhumibol has displayed an unwavering dedication to the well being of his subjects, and a deep concern that they have sufficient food and proper nutrition,” Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the Foundation, said in announcing the award. “His Majesty’s commitment to his subjects has been reflected in the more that 2,000 Royal projects he has established throughout the Kingdom of Thailand, the first of which was initiated in 1952.”

Among these projects have been efforts to promote small-scale agriculture, the introduction of new agricultural technologies and the sustainable use of water. Beyond these projects, His Majesty has led other efforts to promote child health, combat iodine deficiency and increase access to education. Recognized in 2006 by the United Nations as the “Development King,” King Bhumibol’s projects have benefited millions of people across Thailand, with a particular focus on aiding ethnic groups and hill tribes in the mountain regions.

Dr. Borlaug has met with His Majesty in Thailand on previous occasions to discuss possible new approaches to agriculture. According to Quinn, this personal connection makes it appropriate that the King should be the first recipient of the award.

"Both Dr. Norman Borlaug and His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej have committed their lives to uplifting the poor and hungry,” Quinn said.

Former Governor Ray led a special convey of World Food Prize officials to personally deliver the medallion to the King. Ray has a special connection to Southeast Asia, as in the late 1970s, Ray led his state in a successful effort to relocate thousands of refugees in Iowa. This effort was recognized by the Iowa Public Television documentary, "A Promise Called Iowa."

“I’ll never forget visiting Cambodian refugee camps in Thailand,” Ray said. “I was struck not only by the images of starving children, but also by the welcoming spirit of the Thai people in accepting their neighbors in need. This is a spirit epitomized by His Majesty. It is a great honor to be able to call upon the King and present him with this prestigious award.”

The bronze Dr. Norman E. Borlaug Medallion is based upon a sculpture by Danish artist Christian Petersen, whose works are featured prominently on the campus of Iowa State University, just a short distance from the World Food Prize headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. 

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