Murano receives honors for Texas A&M AgriLife leadership

For decades, Texas A&M AgriLife has been recognized as a leader in agriculture production, processing and food safety. Helping continue that tradition has been Elsa Murano, who has received three distinctive honors recently.

Womeninc. magazine has named Murano as part of its 2018 Most Influential Corporate Board of Directors, while Latino Magazine has named Murano recipient of its Maestro Award for Community Service.

Culminating an academic career in food production systems and safety, she will also be inducted into the Meat Industry Hall of Fame in February 2019.

Murano, former president of Texas A&M University and vice chancellor for agriculture and life sciences, served as undersecretary for food safety with the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2001 to 2004. She is currently director of the Norman Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M in College Station.

Through the years, Murano has served on the boards of Hormel, Food Safety Net Services and EcoLab.

“I am very honored to receive these recognitions, but most gratifying is to be recognized for helping to lead our efforts to improve the safety of our food supply, as well as the long-standing tradition of Texas A&M agriculture as the preeminent leader in production, processing and food safety education,” she said. “When people think of these important areas when it comes to food, they think of Texas A&M AgriLife, whether it’s research, Extension or education.”

Murano recalled her work as the top food safety official in the federal government. Upon assuming her role as undersecretary, she and her team were faced with outbreaks of foodborne illness due to contaminated meat products, necessitating the recall of millions of pounds of product from the market.

“The team implemented several science-based measures that resulted in reaching the CDC’s goals for reduction of foodborne illnesses in the U.S. from contaminated meat products six years ahead of schedule,” Murano said.

The Maestro Award for Community Service recognizes Murano’s leadership at the Borlaug Institute, including its activities helping small farmers out of poverty through agriculture and science.

“The way we have been able to successfully effect change in countries like Ethiopia, Rwanda, Guatemala and Indonesia is to connect the farmers to each other through cooperatives and help them engage in value chains to meet market needs for their products,” Murano said. “We basically help them help themselves through training, demonstrations and other activities. As a result, their incomes are enhanced, enabling them to provide for their families, to send their kids to school, to have hope and a future”.

Murano cited the Borlaug Institute’s work in Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala,which has focused on coffee production.

“Our work with coffee farmers in Central America has gone quite well,” she said. “They have had tragic issues with coffee leaf rust disease. Of course, we all know that Americans love coffee, all of which is imported. That’s why this effort is so important in Central America, especially helping those farmers overcome such challenges to their production.

“The disease can wipe out their entire crop and annual source of income to feed their families,” Murano said. “We’ve been able to help develop a resistant coffee variety through conventional breeding, as well as teach them best production practices that promote keeping the fields clean, which helps prevent the fungus from establishing itself in the field.”

Murano said the mission of the Borlaug Institute is to carry out its work based on Dr. Norman Borlaug’s words of wisdom: “The first essential component of social justice is adequate food for all man mankind.”

“Those words continue to drive our international work daily at the Borlaug Institute, something we are very proud and honored to carry out,” Murano said.

For more about the Borlaug Institute, visit