The Foreign Service Journal - October 2017

36 OCTOBER 2017 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL across even the widest political, religious, ethnic or diplomatic differences.” While making this point, I showed a slide of Dr. Daniel Hillel, the Israeli irrigation pioneer, receiving the World Food Prize in 2012 in Des Moines, Iowa, with U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon at his side. Later, I explained to an Iranian TV reporter on camera that Hillel had been nominated by people from three Muslim countries, and that a Muslimprincess, an Arab sheikh and an Israeli diplo- mat were present when he was honored. People Standing Together Continuing my remarks, I noted that we were here in Karaj standing together and cheering together for Dr. Borlaug. What we needed to do, I said, was to find further ways to work together so we would have more reasons to stand together and celebrate joint breakthrough achievements. This was particularly important, I stressed, since we now face the challenge of feeding more than nine billion people worldwide. I suggested that one area for possible Iranian-American coop- eration was in dealing with the scourge of rust disease, which Bor- laug had battled during the course of his life, but which was now reappearing around the globe, including in Iran. Looking straight at the minister and the director general of ABRII, I said I was sure that Dr. Borlaug would be very pleased with Iran’s recent positive Dr. Borlaug is part of Iowa’s rich agricultural legacy, which included a number of historic endeavors to build relationships with former adversaries. cooperation with and participation in the Borlaug Global Rust Initiative. Led by an American scientist fromCornell University who was once Borlaug’s student, the Rust Initiative is waging the battle to contain Ug99, a virulent new strain of wheat rust disease that threatens global wheat production. In the same vein, I shared one of Dr. Borlaug’s most heartfelt wishes, one with special relevance for ABRII. Before he died, I related, he had toldme of his dream that one day scientists would discover which gene in the rice seed keeps that plant from developing rust disease. Using biotechnology, they would insert that gene into wheat, thus forever erad- icating the scourge against which he had battled for his entire life. As a country that grows both rice and wheat, I said, Iran is poised to play a significant role inmak- ing Norman Borlaug’s dream come true. I urged the Ministry of Agriculture and the Biotechnology Research Institute to commit themselves to this goal, and to work with American scientists to achieve it. On the spot, I invited the Iranian minister to select his top scientist working on Ug99 and send that person to Des Moines to take part in a special panel on wheat rust at our World Food Prize symposium later that year. I concluded by saying that there could be no greater tribute to Dr. Borlaug than if Iranians and Americans worked together to eliminate rust disease from the face of the earth. I painted a verbal picture of two scientists— one from Iran and one from the United States—walking in together to receiveThe World Food Prize. We could then, as Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel said in 2001: “stand together and cheer together for this great common achievement,” I stated, leaving unstated but clearly understood: “and live in peace together.” I stepped back from the podium, uncertain of and unprepared for the reaction that followed. Led by Agriculture Minister Mah- moud Hojjati, the audience spontaneously sprang to their feet in unison and gave me a prolonged standing ovation. Many in the audience surged forward to congratulate me on my remarks. The cleric representing the Supreme Leader almost ran to congratu- late me, effusively pumping my hand while praising my state- ment. COURTESYOFKENNETHQUINN Iran’s Minister of Agriculture Mahmoud Hojjati presented a smaller version of the institute’s wall hanging commemorating Dr. Borlaug’s centennial to Ambassador Quinn. Shown here, from left, are Amb. Quinn; Agriculture Minister Hojjati; Dr. Isa Kalantari, the former minister of agriculture of Iran, who invited Dr. Borlaug to Iran in 2000 to receive a gold medal; Dr. Bahman Yazdi-Samadi, professor of genetics and plant breeding at the University of Tehran; and Dr. Eskandar Zand, deputy minister of agriculture of Iran and head of Iran’s Agricultural Research, Education and Extension Organization.