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The Man Who Tried to Feed the World

Timothy Boyer Ph.D.'s picture
Wheat Fields Designed to Feed the World

If you are staying indoors during the COVID-19 pandemic, forget about watching Netflix reruns for a while and discover some agricultural history in an upcoming PBS documentary that spotlights “The Man Who Tried to Feed the World.”


The very foundation of plant science is understanding plant growth and using that knowledge to find ways to produce food that is healthy, sustainable and affordable for feeding the hungry and ensuring world peace. Nowhere is this more evident than as can be seen in America's Green Revolution following WWII.

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The Green Revolution

According to a recent news item from the Progressive Farmer, PBS will release a new documentary next week that takes a look at one of the most iconic—and still today—controversial figures of the Green Revolution: Norman Borlaug.

Norman Borlaug (1914-2009) who earned the distinction as “The father of the Green Revolution” was an American agricultural scientist who in 1970 was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for breeding higher-yielding varieties of wheat at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico.

A man who lived a life focused on fighting global hunger, Mr. Borlung was in the thick of changing agriculture during an important period in American International relations that was overshadowed by government policy and agendas at odds with his views.

Today, there is a risk that remembrance of the man and his legacy is fading with the times and that in light of how agriculture is beginning to enter a new type of Revolution today, now is an apt time to look back at what he did and how things have changed since then.

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"He had arguably a larger impact on the course of human history than people who were far more famous and well known," states Rob Rapley, who directed and wrote the film. "He had a huge, huge, huge impact. His detractors seem intent on denying him credit for anything, but when you see the number of people who are alive and fed, it's staggering. People would do well to look more closely at him."

Watch the Documentary on PBS

The documentary will be available on TV and online via streaming with the PBS Video app.

Timothy Boyer has a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona. For 20+ years he has been employed as a freelance health and science writer. Today, with a background in farming and an avid home gardener, Timothy continues writing about science with a focus on the connection between plant biology and gardening for healthy living. For continual updates about plants and health, you can also follow Timothy on Twitter at TimBoyerWrites.

Image courtesy of Pixabay


1. "Revisiting Norman Borlaug" by Chris Clayton, DTN Ag Policy Editor, Progressive Farmer; 4/17/2020

2. “The Man Who Tried to Feed the World”; PBS, premieres April 21, 2020 AT 8/7