British nutritionist and health campaigner. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1949 for his work towards alleviating world hunger. He was knighted in 1939, and made Baron in 1945.
Boyd Orr conducted fundamental research into human nutrition during the 1930s, looking at, amongst other things, milk in the diet of mothers, children, and the underprivileged. He concluded in his report Food, Health, and Income (1936) that there was an ‘appalling amount of malnutrition’ in England, across all economic groups. The report became the basis for British policy on food during World War II. Boyd Orr also became an influential member of Churchill's Scientific Committee on Food Policy.
At the end of World War II, Boyd Orr was appointed as director general of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and was instrumental in setting up the International Emergency Food Council in 1946 to meet the postwar food crisis.
Boyd Orr was born in Kilmaurs, Ayrshire, Scotland, one of seven children. He was educated mainly at the village school, where he later became a ‘pupil-teacher’. He was awarded a scholarship to attend teacher-training college and Glasgow University. During his time in Glasgow, he became fascinated by the slums there.
After a short spell as a secondary school teacher, Boyd Orr returned to Glasgow University in 1905, to study medicine and biological sciences, after which he moved into research. In 1914 Boyd Orr was employed to set up the Nutrition Institute (now the Rowett Research Institute) in Aberdeen. In 1931 he founded and became editor of Nutrition Abstracts and Reviews. Boyd Orr remained at the Institute till his retirement in 1945, after which he continued to be highly active, becoming rector of Glasgow University and holding a seat in the Commons representing the Scottish Universities, as well as his post at the FAO.
Boyd Orr became disillusioned with the FAO when his proposal for the establishment of a World Food Board failed in 1947, and he resigned, going instead into business, where he also achieved considerable success. He donated his Nobel prize money to the National Peace Council, the World Movement for Federal Government, and similar organizations.
Lord Boyd Orr of Brechin
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