Famine and Food (02:43)
In 1966, Norman Borlaug encountered the effects of hunger in northern India. His new way of agriculture reduced hunger but significantly impacted the environment.
Borlaug's Youth (03:11)
Borlaug, born in 1914, grew up on an isolated farm in Iowa with two siblings. The introduction of tractors in the 1920s improved farming and Borlaug became confident in technology. (Credits)
Borlaug's Education (04:00)
Borlaug left Iowa for Minneapolis. He studied forestry and plant pathology at the University of Minnesota and married Margaret Gibson. Bourlag witnessed a violent incident when hungry men tried to stop dairy farmers from dumping milk.
Politics and Food (03:12)
Deprivation and hunger fueled political instability. The Rockefeller Foundation worked with the Mexican government to quell social unrest in Mexico.
Chapingo, Mexico (03:46)
Bourlag worked in a DuPont laboratory before taking a research job in Mexico where he studied wheat and stem rust. His wife gave birth to a son with spina bifida and he flew back to Delaware; his wife and daughter later joined him in Mexico.
Malnutrition in Mexico (02:07)
Bourlag gathered local wheat varieties. He, Pepe Rodriguez, and Jose Guevara planted 110,000 seeds; only four plants made it to harvest. Bourlag was determined to find a way to feed more people.
Shuttle Breeding (04:25)
Bourlag created a plan to speed up the wheat breeding process and ease malnutrition in Mexico. He planted seeds by hand in Sonora and cross-pollinated plants.
Agricultural Development (02:34)
Bourlag created wheat that resisted stem rust, grew anywhere, and provided large quantities of quality grain, but it required significant amounts of fertilizer and water; poor farmers could not afford the technique. George Harra told him to stop the Sonora program but then changed his mind.
Wheat Production (04:28)
Americans thought the Chinese Civil War was a conflict about resources and Cold War fears increased. The Rockefeller Foundation increased Bourlag's wheat project. Bourlag began crossbreeding top seeds with dwarf wheat and found success in 1962; the foundation saw worldwide potential.
Indian Food Supply (04:57)
In 1963, Bourlag met Dr. Swaminathan and toured India's wheat fields; the country struggled to feed its population. Dwarf wheat agriculture faced significant political challenges; capitalist aspects offended Gandhian thought.
Food Aid: Foreign Policy Tool (02:45)
U.S. officials feared hunger would lead to a Communist takeover in India and began sending surplus grains to countries in need. Population became a political focus and officials worried the food supply could not meet demands.
Drought in India (03:48)
In 1966, millions suffered from famine and the head of the Planning Commission held back funds; President Roosevelt stopped sending wheat. India announced a change in agricultural policy.
"Green Revolution" (04:50)
Workers expanded test fields, farmers received fertilizer, the rains returned, and farmers harvested extreme grain quantities. By 1970, Bourlag's agricultural methods went global; he won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Agricultural Legacy (04:29)
The world population continued to grow and the Green Revolution became the standard operating procedure around the world. Farming methods had significant negative social and environmental impacts. Bourlag died in 2009.
Credits: The Man Who Tried to Feed the World (00:54)
Credits: The Man Who Tried to Feed the World
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