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Innovation and Collaboration: The Future of Agriculture, Food Safety, and Nutrition

Since the start of 2020, several agencies, including the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unveiled four strategic plans related to scientific research and innovations in agriculture, food safety, and nutrition. Each of these longer-term roadmaps aim to take food and agriculture to the next level. There is a discernable focus among each agency on multidisciplinary collaboration across the food value chain and strategically integrating science and technology.

  • USDA Science Blueprint – provides a foundation for focused leadership and direction in advancing USDA’s scientific mission through 2025. It lays out five overarching themes for research, education, and economics, each with established objectives, strategies, and evidence-building measures. The five program themes include: Sustainable Ag Intensification, Ag Climate Adaptation, Food and Nutrition Translation, Value-Added Innovations, and Ag Science Policy Leadership.
  • USDA Agriculture Innovation Agenda – a department-wide initiative to align resources, programs, and research to position American agriculture to better meet future global demands. Specifically, the USDA will stimulate innovation so that American agriculture can achieve the goal of increasing production by 40% while cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. Components of the agenda include: developing a U.S. ag-innovation strategy that aligns and synchronizes public and private sector research; aligning the work of our customer-facing agencies and integrating innovative technologies and practices into USDA programs; conducting a review of USDA productivity and conservation data.
  • FDA New Era of Smarter Food Safety – outlines achievable goals to: enhance traceability, improve predictive analytics, respond more rapidly to outbreaks, address new business models, reduce contamination of food, and foster the development of stronger food safety cultures. It outlines a partnership between government, industry, and public health advocates based on a commitment to further modernize our approach to food safety. \
  • 2020-2030 Strategic Plan for National Institutes of Health (NIH) Nutrition Research – the strategic plan calls for a multidisciplinary approach through expanded collaboration across NIH Institutes and Centers to accelerate nutrition science and uncover the role of human nutrition in improving public health and reducing disease. The strategic plan is organized around four strategic goals that answer key questions in nutrition research: What do we eat and how does it affect us?; What and when should we eat?; How does what we eat promote health across our lifespan?; How can we improve the use of food as medicine?

Each of these multidisciplinary approaches serve to foster collaboration and innovation in food, agriculture, and nutrition. The role of science of food professionals are integral to executing each vision.  

IFT is keenly aware of the need for funding food science research in the U.S., the importance of collaboration, and need for innovation, as illustrated by our report published in early 2020, and we will continue to advocate for funding. 

 

About the Author

Farida Mohamedshah is director of food, health, and nutrition at the Institute of Food Technologists ([email protected]).

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