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The Washington Post had a front-page warning Sunday on the “globe’s worst food crisis in a generation,” but the most interesting story over the weekend was an op-ed piece by Nobel Peace Prize winning agronomist Norman E. Borlaug. Borlaug (above) writes that just as a potentially devastating strain of wheat stem rust disease has appeared, the Bush Administration is cutting funding to wheat rust research.
Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970 for his development of high-yielding strains of wheat. He’s described as the father of the Green Revolution. Global wheat production has not kept up with population gains, Borlaug writes, and in 1999 a new strain of stem rust appeared in Africa. Fifty years ago, stem rust destroyed 20 percent of America’s wheat, and this strain is more dangerous.
The Bush Administration initially reacted quickly to the stem rust threat. Recently, however, Bush proposed that funds for rust research be cut. Borlaug calls this “shocking short-sightednes.”