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William Paddock, 86; was leading plant pathologist

Email|Print|Single Page| Text size + By Joe Holley
Washington Post / March 17, 2008

WASHINGTON - William Carson Paddock, a plant pathologist who developed a disease-resistant strain of corn high in Vitamin A and who wrote extensively on world food issues, died of complications of a stroke at his home in Antigua, Guatemala. He was 86.

Dr. Paddock, who lived in Washington until 1992, first went to Guatemala in 1952 to serve as the director of Iowa State College-Guatemala Tropical Research Center. Intrigued by the challenge of developing a higher-yield corn for Guatemalan peasants, he developed Tiquisate Golden Yellow, a strain able to resist disease and produce higher yields in the Guatemalan soil.

His first article on the world food crisis, "Can We Make the World Feed Us All?," also appeared in 1952, in the Saturday Evening Post. With his extensive knowledge of tropical agriculture, world hunger, and population issues, he wrote or cowrote a number of books on those interrelated issues, including "Hungry Nations" (1964), "Famine, 1975! America's Decision: Who Will Survive?" (1967), and "Time of Famines: America and the World Food Crises" (1976).

Central to Dr. Paddock's research and writings were his beliefs that famine and population growth were linked and that the Green Revolution had to address overpopulation. Writing about the promise of the Green Revolution, he warned in a 1970 BioScience article that "optimism about man's ability to feed himself as today's rate of population growth continues is precisely what we do not need and cannot afford in the race with the population bomb."

Dr. Paddock was born in Minneapolis and graduated from Iowa State University in 1943. He served in the Marines during World War II and received the Purple Heart after being gravely wounded on Okinawa, in Japan. He received a doctorate in plant pathology and plant breeding from Cornell University in 1950.

He was an assistant professor at Pennsylvania State University and a professor at Iowa State University, before moving with his family to Guatemala. In 1957, he moved to Honduras, where he became director of El Zamorano, the Pan American School of Agriculture. During his tenure, El Zamorano became the first college of agriculture in Latin America.

He moved to Washington in 1962 to become director of Latin American Affairs for the National Academy of Sciences.

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