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‘Take it to the farmer’

02/03/2014 @ 12:36pm

Those were the last words from Norman Borlaug, a titan in agriculture. Ken Quinn works to make sure Borlaug’s legacy stands among our country’s greatest.


Quinn says he grew up as a “city kid.” He had a 30-year career as a diplomat, serving as U.S. ambassador to Cambodia. Norman Borlaug, on the other hand, grew up in rural Iowa. He became a renowned researcher, Nobel Peace Prize winner, and he saved 1 billion lives, more than anyone in history.

Despite coming from different backgrounds, Quinn and Borlaug both learned this valuable life lesson: Progress starts when you build a road.

Quinn learned this while working in rural development in the Mekong Delta. Rebellion was in all directions. His recommendation was to build a road to begin the path to progress. “Where the road ends, the insurgency begins,” Quinn says.

Borlaug, who passed away in 2009, was known as the Father of the Green Revolution. His research in Mexico, India, and elsewhere made an indelible mark in human history. In 1997, The Atlantic Monthly claimed, “Norman Borlaug has already saved more lives than anyone who has ever lived.”

Quinn is currently president of the World Food Prize, which was founded by Borlaug in 1986. The prize recognizes the world’s foremost achievements in agriculture and food research and practice. Quinn works every day to tell Borlaug’s story, to embed Borlaug’s legacy even further into America. He wants it to be the Nobel Prize of agriculture.

It’s a noble cause. Quinn works tirelessly to remind us of one of the world’s great citizens. In a way, he and Borlaug still work together in a new quest. The goal is to feed 9 billion people by 2050. Quinn calls it “the biggest challenge in human history.”

With Quinn’s efforts and Borlaug’s legacy, I know this is a road destined to be built.

Here’s to a successful February!

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