From the Ground Up: Carrying on a legacy of helping people

What are you doing to help people directly?
Published: Oct. 29, 2020 at 10:07 AM CDT
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BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) - We’ve been given a glimpse at the work the Borlaug Institute at Texas A&M has done to end hunger, poverty, and even help national security.

Why do they do it?

The answer comes from one simple question: What do you do to help people directly?

“The first component of social justice is adequate food for all mankind,” says Elsa Murano, quoting her late mentor and friend, Norman Borlaug. The Nobel Peace Prize winner is the namesake of an institute at Texas A&M University whose reach goes far beyond agriculture.

“[We] collaborate with the vet school, public health, geoscience... No problem is uni-dimensional,” Murano says. "It just has so many aspects to it; we are the facilitators bringing all these experts together.” She says solving the problems of today and tomorrow can really be as simple as asking yourself one question. It is a question she recalls being asked one day when she first met her friend, Dr. Borlaug.

"He said so what do you do here, Dr. Murano? Well, I said, I’m a food microbiologist, Dr. Borlaug,” Murano said.

“He said, so what do you do that helps people directly? I said well I do experiments on pathogenic organisms that can harm people.

He says, 'Yeah, but that’s what you do in the lab.

What do you do that helps people directly?’ I said ‘Well, Dr. Borlaug, I publish my results in scientific journals and I present it at meetings to people.’

He said ‘Yeah, but those are scientists like you.’

‘What do you do that helps people directly?’

I finally said, ‘Nothing, Dr. Borlaug, I guess.’ [He had] a big smile on his face. we had a great relationship."

“He says it’s up to you, whatever you do in life, [it] helps people, directly. I never forgot it," Murano says. “I have him to thank for inspiring me, and many others at the institute to do this work and carry forward his legacy.”

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