FFAR and Borlaug Dialogue Attendees Celebrate New $100,000 National Academy of Sciences Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences

Award Established by FFAR and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is the First National Academy of Sciences Prize Dedicated to Food and Agriculture

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From left: Ronald Phillips, Pam Johnson, Sally Rockey, and Lawrence Kent.

The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) celebrated the establishment of the first-ever NAS prize dedicated to food and agriculture research today in conjunction with the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue International Symposium in Des Moines, Iowa.

It is widely recognized that global food production must double by the year 2050 in order to meet demand, and that this advancement requires scientific innovation. The new NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences is designed to honor breakthrough scientific achievements and inspire continued innovation in food and agriculture sciences. Support from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a national nonprofit that supports innovative science, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, endows the Prize in perpetuity.

The following speakers discussed the critical importance and impact of scientists working toward more productive, sustainable agriculture and better health through nutritious food at today’s event:

  • Sally Rockey, Ph.D., Executive Director, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
  • Pam Johnson, Secretary, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research Board of Directors; Second Vice President, Maizall and Past President, National Corn Growers Association
  • Lawrence Kent, Senior Program Officer, Agricultural Development Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Ronald Phillips, Ph.D., National Academy of Sciences Member and Regents’ Professor Emeritus and former McKnight Presidential Chair in Genomics, University of Minnesota Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics
  • Kenneth Quinn, Ph.D, President, The World Food Prize Foundation

FFAR hosted today’s celebration of the NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences as part of the 2016 Borlaug Dialogue, an annual symposium bringing together international leaders, policy makers, farmers, executives from agribusiness and non-governmental organizations, and scientific, academic and development experts to address critical food security issues and honor recipients of the World Food Prize. The World Food Prize is awarded annually to recognize individuals who have improved the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.

With the creation of the new NAS Prize in Food and Agriculture Sciences, to be awarded each year to a mid-career recipient at a U.S. institution, FFAR and its partners aim to complement the work of the World Food Prize.

“The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research is proud to partner with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to establish this new prize at the National Academy of Sciences recognizing extraordinary scientists for discoveries that transform how we produce and deliver nutritious food,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of FFAR. “As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the World Food Prize, it is a timely and distinct honor to mark this milestone for food and agriculture sciences alongside our partners and colleagues at this year’s Borlaug Dialogue.”

The inaugural recipient of the new Prize will be honored in January 2017 for an extraordinary contribution to agriculture or to the understanding of the biology of a species fundamentally important to agriculture or food production.

Overcoming Water Scarcity

Overcoming Water Scarcity

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Agriculture uses 70 percent of the world’s accessible freshwater. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Overcoming Water Scarcity Challenge Area addressed water use efficiency in agriculture by developing water conservation and reuse technologies, improving crop and livestock breeds, creating improved agronomic practices, increasing the social and economic tractability of conservation practices and enhancing the efficacy of Extension services.

FFAR’s Sustainable Water Management Challenge Area builds on earlier work to increase water availability and water efficiency for agricultural use, reduces agricultural water pollution and develops water reuse technologies.

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Healthy Soils, Thriving Farms Challenge Area increased soil health by building knowledge, fueling innovation, and enabling adoption of existing or new innovative practices that improve soil health.

The Soil Health Challenge Area advances existing research and identifies linkages between farm productivity and soil health, while also addressing barriers to the adoption of soil health practices.

Protein Challenge

Protein Challenge

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Protein Challenge Area sought to improve the environmental, economic and social sustainability of diverse proteins.

The Advance Animal Systems challenge area supports sustainable animal production through environmentally sound productions practices and advancement in animal health and welfare. Additionally, the Next Generation Crops Challenge Area develops non-traditional crops, including plant-based proteins, and creates new economic opportunities for conventional crops to increase future crop diversity and farm profitability.

Food Waste and Loss

Food Waste and Loss

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About 40 percent of food in the US, or $161 billion each year, is lost or wasted. FFAR’s 2016-2018 Food and Waste Loss Challenge Area addressed the social, economic and environmental impacts from food waste and loss through research that developed of novel uses for agricultural waste, improved storage and distribution, supported tracking and monitoring, minimized spoilage through pre- and post-harvest innovations and changed behaviors to reduce food waste

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area addresses food waste and loss and supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.

Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability

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Supporting innovation is necessary for sustainable results. Over the last 50 years, farmers have tripled global food production thanks to agricultural innovations. Forging the Innovation Pathway to Sustainability was a 2016-2018 Challenge Area that focused on understanding the barriers and processes that prevented the adoption of technology and research results into sustainable practices.

Urban Food Systems

Urban Food Systems

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The 2016-2018 Urban Food Systems Challenge Area addressed feeding urban populations through urban and peri-urban agriculture and augmenting the capabilities of our current food system.

The Urban Food Systems Challenge Area continues this work and enhances our ability to feed urban populations.

Making My Plate Your Plate

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FFAR’s 2016-2018 Making My Plate Your Plate Challenge Area focused on helping Americans meet the USDA 2015 Dietary Guideline recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, including research to both produce and provide access to nutritious fruits and vegetables.

FFAR’s current Health-Agriculture Nexus Challenge Area supports innovative, systems-level approaches to reduce food and nutritional insecurity and improve human health in the US and globally.