Areas of Opportunity
The Agriculture & Food Systems Institute is always looking ahead. With our ear to the ground, we are in tune with the emerging issues in agriculture, sustainability, and new technologies. We have identified several areas worth pursuing as resources allow. These areas leverage our core competencies in convening scientists across disciplines, analyzing research from a systems perspective, and empowering others with the information they need to advance their work.
We invite you to start the conversation with us about potential partnership and collaboration opportunities in these areas. Together, we can make a difference.
Modeling Pests, Pathogens, and Weeds in a Changing Climate
Climate change is altering the range, distribution, and lifecycle of pests, pathogens, weeds, and invasive species impacting agricultural systems. However, understanding this impact is hampered by the lack of long-term data sets on incidence and distribution of these pests. Most current efforts focus on applied modeling in cropping systems to assist in pesticide application. The largest gap in this area is the inclusion of pest and disease models into integrated climate modeling activities.
What We Can Do
With our strengths in convening experts and conceptualizing models, the Agriculture & Food Systems Institute is well suited to identify gaps and help start building the necessary community of modelers. We can bring together parties to discuss how to support the needed long-term datasets, as well as create a coordinated network of experts to exchange information, provide scientific training, establish biosecurity protocols, and enable a rapid response to emerging disease outbreaks.
Why It’s Important
Governments and others need to have the tools to evaluate the risks of biotechnologies in order to make appropriate decisions for their populations so that the sustainable production of food, fuel and fiber may be safely realized.
Integrated Pest Management for Mycotoxins
Over 500 million people living in poverty — particularly in Africa — consume crops and milk contaminated with unsafe levels of mycotoxins, exposing themselves to a range of negative health consequences. Climate change is expected to increase mycotoxin prevalence in many regions, as the changing environment will favor growth of mycotoxigenic fungi.
What We Can Do
Integrated pest management to prevent mycotoxin contamination of food and feed can offer a means to reduce post-harvest losses and ensure a safe food supply. Work to improve crop resistance to mycotoxigenic fungi, including genetic engineering, could provide new varieties that prevent infection. Leveraging our biosafety regulation and risk assessment expertise and role as a convener, the Agriculture and Food Systems Institute can bring together experts in academia, industry, and governments to identify future needs and opportunities to reduce mycotoxins along the supply chain and address capacity building for mycotoxin risk.
Why It’s Important
Since the short-term exposure to mycotoxins leads to toxicosis and long-term effects include cancer and stunting in children, the prevalence of mycotoxins in the food system hinders the achievement of the United Nations sustainable development goals.