Millions Fed: Proven Successes in Agricultural Development

Fighting a “Shifty Enemy”

The international collaboration to contain wheat rusts

H. J. Dubin and John P. Brennan

Key period: 1955–present

Geographic region: Global

The intervention: The global effort to fight wheat rusts—fungi that can rapidly decimate wheat as it matures in the field—involved a critical breakthrough that brought modern science to bear on the challenges of agricultural development. Nobel Prize Laureate Norman Borlaug, with the eventual backing of policymakers, scientists, and philanthropists, catalyzed this effort by breeding rust-resistant wheat varieties in Mexico using innovative research methods. As a result, about 117 million hectares of land under wheat cultivation were protected from
the fungi, directly ensuring the food security of 60 to 120 million rural households and many more millions of consumers.

Book chapter:
Fighting a “Shifty Enemy”: The international collaboration to contain wheat rusts
H. J. Dubin and John P. Brennan
Download (PDF 347K)

Discussion Paper:
Combating stem and leaf rust of wheat: Historical perspective, impacts, and lessons learned
H. J. Dubin and John P. Brennan. 2009. IFPRI Discussion Paper 910.
Download (PDF 2.1M)