Food Policy

Amber Waves


Outside the U.S. Botanic Garden on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., stands a fitting tribute to Norman Borlaug, the Nobel Peace Prize-winning biologist who is often credited with saving a billion people worldwide from starvation.

Ranks of wheat stalks grow in a raised bed. They're tall, but not too tall. They do not snap in a strong wind. They resist diseases such as rust, the too-frequent cause of famines through history. The robust strains developed by Borlaug using innovative plant hybridization techniques and planted in Mexico, India, and Pakistan, were carefully engineered to withstand a variety of conditions. And their output dwarfs the scrawny ancestral wheat varieties growing on the other size of the terrace.

"Amber Waves of Grain" runs through October 10. It is part of a modest worldwide celebration of what would have been Borlaug's 100th birthday. A seven-foot bronze statue of the father of the Green Revolution was unveiled nearby in the U.S. Capitol's Statuary Hall earlier this year. –Katherine Mangu-Ward