The World Food Prize Foundation annually presents recognition of outstanding scholars and their impacts to address worldwide hunger and poverty. This week, Texas A&M University joined these honorees as only the seventh recipient of the Norman E. Borlaug Medallion. Presented in the spirit of Dr. Norman Borlaug, these awards recognize world leaders’ impacts to benefit mankind.
Dr. Norman Borlaug, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and U.S. Congressional Gold Medal is known as the “father of the green revolution” and credited with saving over a billion lives through his research and development of drought and disease resistance crops such as wheat and rice. His academic pursuits carried him from Iowa to Mexico, India and across Africa, before ending his career as a professor at Texas A&M University.
“In Texas A&M, Dr. Borlaug is said to have found kindred spirits in faculty and an institution wide commitment to service that he believed would continue to impact the greatest challenges facing the world.” said Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize Foundation. “The infectious spirit and excellence of faculty and research here, led Norm to believe Texas A&M was one of the few places on the planet that the noble cause to end world hunger will be solved.”
Ambassador Quinn noted in particular the work of the Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture and its director, Dr. Elsa Murano and Ms. Julie Borlaug, associate director and granddaughter of Dr. Borlaug, as well as the multidisciplinary work in fruit and vegetable improvement, soil and crop sciences, Center for Conflict and Development and collaborations with the Bush School of Government & Public Service.
Accepting the honor, Texas A&M Provost & Executive Vice President, Karan Watson commented on the expertise of faculty and the commitment to service. “Tonight, we graciously accept the Borlaug Medallion on behalf of faculty whose teaching, research and service is improving food security, agriculture science, policy and trade as well as preventing hunger and poverty around the world.”
Watson continued, “While our foundation in these sciences will always have a home in agriculture and life sciences, I’m proud that the issue of hunger and its many related issues and effects are at the forefront of our faculty’s efforts in disciplines from engineering, economics, and business, as well as those in sociology, psychology, and the humanities. As we all know, the issue of hunger is not merely the availability of safe and nutrition-rich food, but also of the hearts, minds and spirits of the people for whom we seek to ensure both their individual and community destinies.”
“This recognition signifies Texas A&M’s leadership as a land grant university focused on improving life and addressing the greatest challenges around the world,” noted President Michael K. Young.
Ambassador Quinn presented the Borlaug Lecture as part of his visit, sharing insights on “Borlaug, Beachell, Bush and the Road to Developing Africa.” During the lecture, Ambassador Quinn focused on the role agricultural biotechnology and infrastructure plays in global security. He recounted the time he spent as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and how his plan for agricultural enhancements and rural roads eventually led to the final eradication of the Khmer Rouge.
Over his 32-year career with the State Department, Dr. Kenneth M. Quinn served in such roles as Rural Development advisor in the Mekong Delta, staff member on the National Security Council, and U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia. He has led the World Food Prize Foundation since 2000.
The Medallion will be permanently displayed, along with other artifacts from Dr. Borlaug’s career, at the AgriLife Center of the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences.