On Tuesday, a statue honoring scientist Norman Borlaug was unveiled on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Ahead of the event, his granddaughter Julie spoke with AgriTalk radio about Borlaug and his contribution to farming. She said numerous family members would be on hand for the unveiling, a relatively rare opportunity to celebrate those accomplishments.
"This shocks a lot of people, but growing up, we knew he was working in agriculture, and we always knew he was working to feed people. But we didn’t understand the depth of it," Julie Borlaug tells AgriTalk host Mike Adams. "I think a lot of that was because he was gone so much and so dedicated to his work that we weren’t able to see all of it."
Click here to listen to the complete AgriTalk interview with Julie Borlaug:
Political leaders marked Tuesday’s ceremony with announcements praising the legacy of Borlaug, who would have turned 100 this week.
"Dr. Borlaug's groundbreaking work to advance agricultural production and his steadfast support of new technologies have saved billions from hunger and ultimately laid the foundation for the way of life we enjoy today," noted Rep. Frank Lucas, chairman, House Agriculture Committee. "I hope when visitors see his statue in the U.S. Capitol, they will be reminded of how far we have come in agricultural production and how important it is that we continue agricultural research and innovation for the security of our food supply."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, echoed those comments.
"Norman Borlaug was a true pioneer in American agriculture, whose commitment to research and innovation helped to feed starving populations around the world," she says. "He represented the best of the American spirit, and I’m proud that his work and legacy will be enshrined in the Capitol to remind us of this every day."
Criticism of genetically modified crops and other technology would have drawn a reaction from Borlaug, his granddaughter says.
"He would find it so unreasonable, the backlash – whether it’s against GMOs or any type of innovation and technology in agriculture," Julie Borlaug continues. "There seems to be a misconception with people in the United States and western countries that we can go back to the farming techniques of the early 1900s and late 1800s … . I don’t think that people realize how many farmers and scientists contributed to where we currently are in agriculture."