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March 23rd, 2011

Dr. Norman Borlaug Statue To Be Placed in U.S. Capitol

Iowa will be represented in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall by a statue of Dr. Norman Borlaug, known as the “Father of the Green Revolution” and the man who saved an estimated 1 billion lives with his advances in wheat science. Borlaug is also known for founding the World Food Prize, which has been called the “Nobel Prize for Food and Agriculture” and which aims to inspire additional achievements in improving the quality, quantity and availability of food in the world.

The Iowa Legislature today approved a resolution with bipartisan support that will exchange one of the state’s two current statues – both of which depict 19th-century politicians – with a statue of Dr. Borlaug.

Governor Terry Branstad will sign the resolution during a ceremony in his formal office Wednesday at 4 p.m.

“This is truly a historic occasion,” Gov. Branstad said. “Dr. Borlaug’s legacy in feeding a billion people marks him as one of Iowa’s and America’s greatest heroes. Having his statue in our nation’s capital will ensure that his legacy endures.”

Ambassador Kenneth Quinn, president of the World Food Prize, said the moment is fitting, as Borlaug’s 97th birthday would be this week on March 25, and as the World Food Prize this year celebrates 25 years of recognizing great achievements in science and agriculture.

“This is such a marvelous tribute to Dr. Borlaug. I want to express our heartfelt appreciation to the bipartisan leadership of the Iowa Legislature for this action,” Quinn said. “Norm personified Iowa and America, through his hard work and relentless drive to improve the quality of life around the globe, and was one of the first pioneers to take the great learnings of American science beyond our borders. We should all strive to be as dedicated as Norm to advancing humankind.”

Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for a lifetime of work to feed a hungry world. His critical advancement was developing a new type of wheat, which is one of mankind’s food staples. He used traditional plant breeding methods that improved wheat’s resistance to detrimental diseases, allowing farmers all over the world to increase their yields and help alleviate hunger.

BILL SIGNING EVENT:
Gov. Branstad will sign the resolution during a ceremony Wednesday, March 23, at 4 p.m. in the Governor’s Formal Office. The media is welcome to attend. John Ruan III, chairman of the World Food Prize, will attend with Amb. Quinn. Several of Iowa’s congressmen have also indicated they will attend.

Borlaug founded the World Food Prize, which this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. The World Food Prize has grown tremendously from when it started as a half-day event, and now hosts its three-day Norman E. Borlaug International Symposium, known as the “Borlaug Dialogue,” on food security each October, surrounding World Food Day and in conjunction with the World Food Prize Laureate Award Ceremony. Sir Gordon Conway recently said that the symposium has become “the premier conference in the world on global agriculture.”

Last year, the World Food Prize events attracted over 1,000 participants from more than 65 countries to Des Moines, Iowa, in America’s heartland. The events also include a Global Youth Institute that connects high school students from Iowa and around the world to notable experts, with the goal of inspiring more youth to work toward careers in science and agriculture – nearly 20 are selected each year for a summer internship at an international research center.

By an act of Congress in 1864, each state is allowed two statues of “notable citizens” to be displayed in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall. Iowa’s two current statues depict Samuel Kirkwood, Iowa’s governor during the Civil War, and James Harlan, a U.S. Senator from 1855 to 1865. Both men also served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior.

For a complete biography of Dr. Borlaug, please visit www.worldfoodprize.org/Borlaug.

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