Norman Borlaug? John Boyd Orr? George C. Marshall?
Dear Quote Investigator: Human deprivation engenders unrest, violence, and war. The following saying has been credited to Nobel laureate Norman Borlaug, an agronomist who contributed to large increases in agricultural productivity:
You can’t build peace on empty stomachs.
The statement has also been attributed to Nobel laureate John Boyd Orr, a doctor who worked to improve food production and distribution. Would you please explore the expression’s provenance?
Quote Investigator: In 1945 John Boyd Orr was elected a Member of Parliament in the U.K. In 1946 the House of Commons discussed the “World Food Situation”, and Orr said the following as recorded in the Hansard: 1
This country had such a good and well organised food policy during the war, and our prestige stands very high. Therefore, I hope the Government will wholeheartedly support this new Food Council, and will accept its instructions and carry them out as far as possible. I believe that by doing so, we shall make a very great contribution to peace. After all, famine is the greatest of all politicians. We cannot build peace on empty stomachs.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.