Source: University of Glasgow
Source: © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow
Source: University of Glasgow, ref PH/PR 2529
Source: University of Glasgow
John Boyd Orr, Baron Boyd Orr of Brechin, qualified in teaching, medicine and physiological chemistry before being appointed to head the animal Nutrition Institute, later the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen.
Through the 1920s, his own research was devoted mainly to animal nutrition but his focus changed to human nutrition both as a researcher, undertaking large-scale surveys, and an active lobbyist and propagandist for improving people's diets.
In 1927, he proved the value of milk being supplied to school children, which led to free school milk provision in the UK. His 1936 report Food, Health and Income showed that at least one third of the UK population were so poor that they could not afford to buy sufficient food to provide a healthy diet.
John Boyd Orr
"We must conquer hunger and want, because hunger and want in the midst of plenty are a fatal flaw and a blot on our civilization. They are one of the fundamental causes of war."
During the Second World War, he was a member of Churchill's Scientific Committee on Food Policy and helped to formulate food rationing. Post war he accepted the post of director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. He set up an International Emergency Food Council, with thirty-four member nations, to meet the post-war food crisis but his proposal for the establishment of a World Food Board failed in 1947. He then resigned from his post, his dream of a movement to achieve world unity and peace shattered.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949 for his scientific research into nutrition and his work as the first Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. He donated the financial part of the Prize to the National Peace Council, the World Movement for World Federal Government, and other organizations devoted to world peace and a united world government.
In 1960, he was co-founder and first president of the World Academy of Art and Science, a scientific organisation concerned about the potential misuse of scientific discoveries, most especially nuclear weapons.
Nutritionist and Physiologist
Born 23 September 1880, Kilmaurs, Scotland.
Died 25 June 1971.
The famous nutritionist and physiologist John Boyd Orr, Baron Boyd Orr of Brechin (1880-1971), was a graduate of the University who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1949. He was Rector, 1945 to 1947, Chancellor, 1947-1971, and the Boyd Orr Building is named for him.
Born in Kilmaurs in Ayrshire, Orr graduated MA from the University in 1902; BSc in 1910 and MB, ChB in 1912. After a short spell at sea as a ship's surgeon, he worked with Professor Edward Provan Cathcart at the University's Institute of Pathology and graduated MD with Honours in 1914. He was appointed director of a new institute of animal nutrition at the University of Aberdeen in 1913.
During the First World War, Orr fought at the Battles of the Somme (1916) and Passchendale (1917) winning the MC and the DSO. He returned to Aberdeen in 1919 and raised the funds to build the Rowett Institute. He was awarded a DSc from the University of Glasgow in 1920.
Orr led pioneering studies in the nutrition of farm animals and human populations. He provided the core of the Government's food nutrition policy during the Second World War and he became Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organisation, 1945-1948. He was awarded an honorary LLD degree in 1947. He was MP for the Scottish Universities, 1945-1946, and was created a baronet in 1949.
A collection of Orr's WW1 medals are held in the Coin Cabinet of the Hunterian Museum.
University Link: Alumnus, Chancellor, Rector
GU Degrees: MA, 1902; BSc, 1910; MB ChB, 1912; MD, 1914; DSc, 1920; LLD, 1947;
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