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John Boyd Orr


(Lord Boyd Orr of Brechin)

1880 - 1971

Nutritionist and Nobel Prize winner. Born in Kilmaurs (East Ayrshire), son of a quarry-owner, and educated at the village school there, Kilmarnock Academy and the University of Glasgow. At Glasgow he took a medical degree and practised briefly before entering a career in research. Moving to Aberdeen, Boyd-Orr establishing the Rowett Institute, named after John Quiller Rowett (1874 - 1924), a businessman and philanthropist. Boyd-Orr established a programme of research on human and animal nutrition and his research had a significant impact on British health policy, including the introduction of free milk in schools.

On retiring from the Rowett Institute in 1945, Boyd Orr took on three new posts; Rector of the University of Glasgow, Member of Parliament for the Scottish Universities and Director-General of the newly established Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. Boyd-Orr made his lasting contribution in this latter position, becoming the architect of food policies aimed at helping the starving nations. In recognition of this work he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949 and elevated to a peerage in the same year. Frustrated at the lack of progress and at political procrastination, he resigned from the FAO, taking up the cause of world government as the only realistic means of preventing poverty and hunger.

Boyd Orr published widely throughout his career and died at his home in Scotland. The University of Glasgow has named a building in his honour.


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