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6 Degrees Entertainment

'The Man Who Tried To Feed The World'
(DVD / PG-13 / 2020 / PBS)

Overview: 'The Man Who Tried to Feed the World' recounts the story of Norman Borlaug, a man who not only solved India's famine problem but would go on to lead a "Green Revolution" of worldwide agriculture programs estimated to have saved one billion lives.

He was awarded the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his work but spent the rest of his life watching his methods and achievements come under increasing fire.

DVD Verdict: In 1966, drought and an exploding population confronted India with the imminent threat of a severe famine that many scientists and intellectuals feared was a harbinger of global catastrophes to come, as the world's population outstripped its ability to produce food.

India turned to Norman Borlaug, an unassuming plant breeder from Iowa whose combination of scientific knowledge and raw determination had made him a legend among a small handful of fellow specialists.

'American Experience: The Man Who Tried To Feed The World' informs us that Dr. Borlaug, a central figure in the “green revolution”, was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, to Henry and Clara Borlaug.

For nearly three decades, he collaborated with Mexican scientists on problems of wheat improvement; for the last ten or so of those years he had also collaborated with scientists from other parts of the world, especially from India and Pakistan, in adapting the new wheats to new lands and in gaining acceptance for their production.

An eclectic, pragmatic, goal-oriented scientist, we learn that he accepted and discarded methods or results in a constant search for more fruitful and effective ones, while at the same time avoiding the pursuit of what he calls “academic butterflies”.

He spent countless hours hunched over in the blazing Mexican sun as he manipulated tiny wheat blossoms to cross different strains. To speed the work, he set up winter and summer operations in far-flung parts of Mexico, logging thousands of miles over poor roads.

He also battled illness, forded rivers in flood, dodged mudslides and sometimes slept in tents.

He was by then a trained scientist holding a doctoral degree in plant diseases. But as he sought to coax better performance from the wheats of Mexico, he relied on a farm boy’s instinctive feel for the plants and the soil in which they grew.

Even around the time of his passing in 2009, Dr. Borlaug was participating in extensive experimentation with triticale, a man-made species of grain derived from a cross between wheat rye that shows promise of being superior to either wheat or rye in productivity and nutritional quality.

Learn much more about this incredible man in the just-released 'American Experience: The Man Who Tried To Feed The World,' out now on DVD from PBS. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.

www.PBS.org





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