National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Announces Moonshots for Food and Agricultural Research
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) today released, “Science Breakthroughs to Advance Food and Agricultural Research by 2030,” an innovative effort to determine the greatest scientific opportunities in the next decade within the fields of food and agriculture.
Tapping the ingenuity and knowledge of the American research community, Breakthroughs 2030 identified how research can address five major moonshots critical for the future of food and agriculture: microbiomes, gene editing, data analysis, sensors and biosensors, and transdisciplinary collaborations.
“We thank the National Academies and the Breakthroughs 2030 committee for their remarkable effort on this report,” said Sally Rockey, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a co-funder of the study. “The areas outlined provide a clear rallying point for the food and agriculture research community to focus on areas of greatest impact that will directly affect American farmers in the next ten years.”
Working through the NASEM independent study process, Breakthroughs 2030 gathered input from nearly 150 researchers and stakeholders to determine a vision that capitalizes on emerging trends, encourages greater interdisciplinary research, and informs the decisions of policymakers and academic leaders. Advocates look to insert the Breakthroughs 2030 report into the effort to increase the federal government’s investments in agricultural research. The U.S. now trails China in both government investments in agricultural research as well as agricultural production.
“Agriculture is confronting a crisis no less epic than the dustbowl of the 1930s,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, which commissioned the NASEM report. “The American scientific community has now mapped out how we can transform food production, answering many of the challenges that have emerged to getting dinner on the table every night. It’s on us now to implement this blueprint.”
Over the past year, NASEM canvassed researchers in a wide variety of fields through a series of live events and webinars. Through a consensus-building process, the committee identified the five most important initiatives that need to be addressed by food and agriculture research:
- The potential of microbiomes—in the animal gut, in soil, and everywhere in between—to increase efficiency and overcome obstacles in production
- Advancements in genetic evaluation and editing, including making the most of CRISPR and other technologies to accelerate the evolution of food production
- Expanding and analyzing the many pools of data involved in growing and producing food
- Developing and improving sensors and biosensors across all agricultural sectors to increase productivity and better target interventions
- Examining, through transdisciplinary collaborations, entire systems in food production and finding the keys to adapting and transforming them to overcome challenges and increase production
Science Breakthroughs 2030 was funded by the SoAR Foundation, the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, National Science Foundation, and 23 other foundations, scientific societies, commodity groups, and university associations.