UPDATED: A new video commemorating Norman Borlaug's 100th birthday has been added to this report.
A new statue in the U.S. Capitol building's statuary hall to recognize the contributions of Dr. Norman Borlaug was unveiled Tuesday morning, celebrating Borlaug's many years of research and innovative plant breeding that saved billions of people from starvation.
Borlaug, a native Iowan, spent many years breeding wheat plants for improved yields and heartiness in Mexico, Pakistan and India. For his efforts, he became one of only three Americans ever to receive the trifecta of humanitarian awards – the Nobel Peace Prize, the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He also received a National Medal of Science.
"Dr. Borlaug's statue reflects not only the magnitude of his own achievements, but the power of science to change lives in a positive way," said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, who presented comments during the unveiling ceremony.
"Dr. Borlaug's legacy influences our work at USDA to equip the next generation of researchers and agricultural leaders with the sophisticated tools they'll need to address the challenges of a changing climate and a growing global population," he noted in USDA comment.
Tuesday also marked the 100th anniversary of Borlaug's birth. He passed away in 2009. Often regarded as the "Father of the Green Revolution," Borlaug continued his work until late in life, receiving his Congressional Gold Medal in 2006, an awardee remembered by many Congress members.
"He was a man who saved millions – no, a billion lives. A billion lives," House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said during Tuesday's ceremony. "He was a self-described hunger-fighter who embraced the power of science to alleviate human suffering; who inspired us with his call to feed the hungry, to eliminate poverty and to deliver hope to all."
Also credited with the creation of the World Food Prize to continue support for agricultural research and innovation, many suggested Borlaug was a driving force in unifying agriculture in implementing sustainable production methods.
In a released statement, American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman underscored his impact on modern agriculture.
"America's farms are the world's most productive in large part because Dr. Borlaug and his successors showed the way to the productivity we enjoy today," Stallman commented. "America's food and fiber producers honor his legacy through sustainable, ethical and scientifically proven production systems and sound business practices that assure land, livestock and natural resources will be here for future generations."