Crop scientist deserves hero treatment

Members of North American Agricultural Journalists are a hard-boiled bunch, al-ways most at ease putting U.S. political leaders and agency heads on the spot. 


However, I saw a softer side of this group of no-nonsense reporters and editors last week in Washington, D.C., as they paid homage to a man about whom no amount of professional journalistic skepticism can reduce from the status of hero. 


For most of one morning we were scheduled to meet with the chairs of the Senate and House of Representatives agriculture committees and some of their members, but first we took a long detour within the Capitol building to see the statue of Norman Borlaug in the National Statuary Hall, which was unveiled March 25. 


Journalists are trained not to get sentimental about important people they have to write about, but most of us posed in front of the statue to have our images combined with his one last time.


Borlaug died in 2009, but his legacy will live on longer than any of us. He is called the Father of the Green Revolution and the Man Who Saved A Billion Lives because of his research, which from the 1950s-onward radically improved crop yields in poor, hunger-afflicted regions such as India.


I met and interviewed Borlaug. So have most members of the NAAJ. That would normally make us leery of seeming too close to the man, a threat to our objectivity, but Borlaug was a man who passed the test of journalistic skepticism and emerged untarnished.


For those of us who cover agriculture for a living, it was nice to see a crop scientist treated as a U.S. hero, every bit as important as American revolutionary Samuel Adams or president Dwight D. Eisenhower.


We as agricultural journalists believe agriculture is as important as any other heroic endeavour, and it is nice to know that anyone who visits National Statuary Hall will see a seven-foot tall bronze testament to that truth.

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