By Breanne Brammer & Jessica Vaughn
DES MOINES, Iowa — Norman Borlaug left behind a legacy beyond his wheat research with the Norman E. Borlaug International Agricultural Science and Technology Fellowship Program
Borlaug Fellows are usually scientists, researchers or policy makers from developing and middle-income countries. The program supports food security and economic growth by providing training and research opportunities to fellows.
“I couldn’t imagine myself in any other branch of veterinary medicine than meat hygiene,”
said Dr. Asmaa Fayed, a 2014 Fellow. “It’s dangerous, but I like it.”
Fayed is a veterinarian from Egypt now studying at the University of Missouri with research focusing on meat hygiene. She is studying E coli 0157H7, a hemorrhagic form of the pathogen. Children under 10 years old and the elderly are most susceptible to contracting this form of the pathogen.
Fayed was inspired to research the topic by her veterinary professor at the University of Cairo, and wishes to continue her lab research after completing the fellowship. Technological innovations like Fayed’s represent the legacy of Borlaug.
Borlaug’s daughter, Jeanie Borlaug-Laube, challenged a room of fellows to carry on what her father began. She described the Fellows program as her father’s favorite part of the World Food Prize, which is named in his honor.
“My dad always said to reach for the stars because you may get a little stardust,” Borlaug-Laube said.
This year 22 fellows were inducted, representing 14 countries at the 2014 World Food Prize. Current and past fellows gathered on Wednesday afternoon at the University of Missouri luncheon.
Speakers included Brady Deaton, chairman of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development, Sanjaya Rajaram, 2014 World Food Prize laureate, and Gurdev Khush, 1996 World Food Prize laureate.
Growing up in Mexico City, Borlaug-Laube remembers her father as a quiet man who always had a book in his hand. He also had a competitive streak, which was exhibited as a collegiate wrestler and in his wheat research. His daughter said Borlaug wanted to be the best in whatever he did whether it was athletics or research.
Borlaug was also motivated by compassion to improve the lives of children worldwide. There were three things she said her father believed were necessary for every child: medical attention, education and adequate food.
“He was a scientist but he was also a humanitarian,” Borlaug-Laube said. “He cared about everyone. Above that, he was a teacher.”
Rajaram, 2014 World Food Prize Laureate and fellow luncheon speaker, said Borlaug loved being in the wheat fields but enjoyed teaching others about the plants even more. He even insisted students learn how to talk to the plants. Rajaram said Borlaug encouraged many to be empowered through learning.
Khush considered Borlaug a mentor. He remembered Borlaug often said, “The right to food is a right for everyone on the planet.” Khush said Borlaug dedicated his life to improve the quality of other lives, a global mission
Rajaram said future generations need to apply new technology and innovations to continue Borlaug’s progress.
“The legacy of Norman Borlaug is in the human resource of young people,” Rajaram said. “If we are going to meet the world food demands then it is going to be through the young people.”
Deaton addressed the fellows’ hefty task; they not only carry Dr. Borlaug’s name with them in their careers, but also carry on his dream of feeding the world.
“You represent the ideals Norman Borlaug had in mind when he said be your best, because the future of agriculture is in your hands,” Deaton said.