‘The Man Who Tried to Feed the World’ Looks at the Plan to Solve India’s Famine (VIDEO)
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World tells the story of Norman Borlaug, an American agronomist who won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in fighting global hunger. The American Experience documentary, a tale of good deeds and unexpected returns, premieres Tuesday, April 21 on PBS.
By increasing the world’s food supply, Borlaug made it possible for the planet to support far more people than had been thought possible, saving countless lives in the process.
But in doing so, he unleashed a series of unintended consequences that tarnished his reputation and forever changed the environmental and economic balance of the world.
Borlaug meticulously planted, cataloged, and pollinated thousands of wheat varieties, finally developing an all-purpose plant that could revolutionize a country’s food production. But there was a catch: Borlaug’s new wheat required massive amounts of costly fertilizer and water — an expense far beyond the means of most peasant farmers.
In 1968, the harvest was one and a half times larger than the previous record. It marked the beginning of a movement that would change the face of the world: the “Green Revolution” of global industrial agriculture programs. Two years later, Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize.
Borlaug would spend the final decades of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire by a wide range of critics, who held him responsible for soil degradation, the reduction of the water table, the spread of toxic chemicals, and the destruction of rural society around the world.
The Man Who Tried to Feed the World, Premiere, Tuesday, April 21, 8/7c, PBS (Check your local listings)