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Wheat that put bread into the mouths of millions

Our History: July 1964

Wheat that put bread into the mouths of millions

The front page of our July 9, 1964 issue featured a photo of R. Glenn Anderson, a wheat breeder at the “rust lab” at the Department of Agriculture Cereal Research Station in Winnipeg. The photo illustrated the height difference between normal-height wheat and semi-dwarf wheat that Anderson had begun developing in 1956. That month Anderson and his family were leaving for India, where he would take a position with the Rockefeller Foundation, and the story quoted Anderson as saying that the semi-dwarf varieties would enable countries in the Middle East and Asia to “greatly increase production in the next few years.”

We now know those varieties led to “The Green Revolution,” with Norman Borlaug often referred to as its “father.” But Borlaug, who recruited Anderson for the position in India, always gave great credit to him for his work. “When Glenn arrived in India, the country had a five-million- to eight-million-tonne deficit that was steadily worsening as food demand increasingly outpaced supply,” Borlaug said in a 1992 address to the Canadian and American phytopathological societies. “Glenn helped to lead a research and production effort that literally put bread into the mouths of tens of millions.”

IN 1979, Anderson succeeded Borlaug as director of CIMMYT, the international wheat- and maize-breeding program, but tragically, he died in 1981 at only 57.

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