Plant research funding crucial for the future

Jun 01, 2012

The scientific community needs to make a 10-year, $100 billion investment in food and energy security, says Carnegie's Wolf Frommer and Tom Brutnell of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in an opinion piece published in the June issue of The Scientist. They say the importance of addressing these concerns in light of a rapidly growing global population is on par with President John Kennedy's promise to put man on the moon—a project that took a decade and cost $24 billion.

"Today, we face growing and economically empowered nations, energy-intensive global economies, and major shifts in global climate that together constitute the perfect storm for agriculture.," Frommer and Brutnell say. "Yet plant-science research has been underfunded for decades—and funding is projected to shrink."

In 2012 the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization estimated that about 920 million people lack sufficient food to meet suggested daily caloric intake goals. Furthermore, the FAO estimates that food production will have to rise 70 percent by 2050 as the world population continues to expand.

The only way to address this pending problem, Frommer and Brutnell say, is to use scientific research to boost crop yield and fight plant pathogens. Plant science can also develop with a diminished the need for fertilizers and water, as well plants that can produce sustainable biofuels. What's more, in addition to improving food and , upping investments in agricultural science can contribute to increased social and political stability in developing nations. In order to accomplish this, however, the United States must commit greater resources to funding plant research.

"In an overpopulated, food-limited world we will inevitably witness more social unrest and, potentially, food and climate wars," Frommer and Brutnell say. "The U.S. must seize the opportunity now to build on its tremendous strength in agriculture and reverse the current path of reduced spending and investment. If we do nothing, we may return to our pre-1776 role as colonists who simply provide to more strategically minded nations."

Explore further: Researchers can trace dust samples using fungal DNA

Related Stories

The future of plant science -- a technology perspective

Mar 02, 2012

Plant science is key to addressing the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st Century, according to Carnegie's David Ehrhardt and Wolf Frommer. In a Perspective published in The Plant Cell, the two researchers argue ...

The heart of the plant

Dec 08, 2011

Food prices are soaring at the same time as the Earth's population is nearing 9 billion. As a result the need for increased crop yields is extremely important. New research led by Carnegie's Wolf Frommer into the system by ...

New projection shows global food demand doubling by 2050

Nov 21, 2011

Global food demand could double by 2050, according to a new projection by David Tilman, Regents Professor of Ecology in the University of Minnesota's College of Biological Sciences, and colleagues, including ...

Fungi reduce need for fertilizer in agriculture

May 23, 2011

The next agricultural revolution may be sparked by fungi, helping to greatly increase food-production for the growing needs of the planet without the need for massive amounts of fertilizers according to research presented ...

UN calls for eco-friendly farming to boost yields

Jun 13, 2011

The United Nations food agency on Monday called for greater use of environmentally sustainable techniques by poor farmers in order to increase crop intensity to feed the world's growing population.

Recommended for you

Telling the time of day by color

13 hours ago

Research by scientists at The University of Manchester has revealed that the colour of light has a major impact on how the brain clock measures time of day and on how the animals' physiology and behavior adjust accordingly. ...

Roadkill hot spots identified in California

18 hours ago

An interactive map shows how California's state highway system is strewn with roadkill "hot spots," which are identified in a newly released report by the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Da ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.