Supporting the Establishment of a National Institute for Food and Agriculture

April 1, 2005

Supporting the Establishment of a National Institute for Food and Agriculture

The Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) supports the establishment of a National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) as an independent institute or as a new division within the National Science Foundation (NSF), as proposed by U.S. Senator Kit Bond (R-MO)1 and Congressman Gil Gutknecht (R-MN)2. Founded in 1939, the IFT is a nonprofit scientific society with 26,000 members working in food science, technology, and related professions in the food industry, academia, and government. As the society for food science and technology, IFT brings sound science to the public discussion of food and nutrition issues.

IFT endorses the findings of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Research, Education, Economics Task Force tasked with reviewing, and evaluating the merits of establishing one or more institutes focused on the food and agricultural science disciplines. Funding for NIFA must supplement and enhance, not supplant, existing federal research programs or those supported by federal funds. IFT believes that the nation can only remain technologically and economically competitive by increasing our investment in federal research and education programs in science and engineering. According to the NSF, agricultural research accounted for only three percent of all public funds for basic research and only one percent of total R&D expenditures for FY 20033. This level of support is inadequate for the food and agricultural sector of the economy. The establishment of NIFA will help address this deficiency by focusing new money in the food and agricultural sciences.

NIFA will position federal support toward future areas of food science research in enhancing food and water quality and safety, minimizing adverse health outcomes associated with food and water and maximizing health and wellness through processing and identification of the physiologically active components in food. NIFA would also establish research that will address such challenges as food defense and food safety, obesity, and the promise of molecular biology, genetics and nanotechnology to provide safer and healthier foods. This research will provide the foundation for developing lasting improvements in human health, which is the long-term benefit of food science research and education.

IFT urges Congress and the Administration to consider the importance of increasing the nation’s investment in food and agricultural research as a commitment to improving public health and wellness. IFT reemphasizes that funding for the institute, or as a division of the NSF, not come at the expense of existing peer-reviewed, federal food and agricultural research programs.

Herbert Stone, Ph. D.

1 S. 767 National Food and Agricultural Science act of 2005
2 H.R. 1563 National Food and Agricultural Science act of 2005
3 National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, NSF 04-329

Story Tools