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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION On December 3, 1974, President Ford addressed a letter to the President of the National Academy of Sciences and a memorandum to the Secretary of Agriculture calling for an assessment of the food problem. He requested recommendations for a program of research and development to insure the food supply and improve the nutrition of our country and that of all nations. He asked that priorities be set, specific programs outlined, and needed resources determined. Partial resolution of food and nutrition problems around the world will come from both the enhancement of production in agriculturally developing nations and the improvement of the agricultural system in the U.S. The focus of this report, however, is primarily upon the improvement of U.S. food producing capabilities. Thus, it is a partial response to the President's request. A subsequent report will address the issue of other nations. This report on Enhancement of Food Production for the United States consists of two parts. In Part One, the Conclusions and Recommendations point up some gross deficiencies in our current investments in agricultural and food research and give specific suggestions for replenishing the scientific pool of knowledge that has been drawn upon heavily during the last two decades without being adequately maintained (NAS 1975a). Recommendations are provided on management of technological innovations in food systems, and constraints on U.S. agricultural production and research are discussed along with suggestions for improving the ways the science research activities of a wide range of U.S. institutions concerned with food are observed, reported, and managed. Part Two stresses the U.S. needs for an assessment of land, water, and manpower resources, and for research concerning human nutrition, energy, weather, crop and livestock protection, fertilizer, the production of crops and livestock, and biological processes that control or limit productivity. The discussion emphasizes development of new technologies in food science and human nutrition. The attempt to treat these subjects adequately with so little time and manpower has been a formidable undertaking. It has been necessary to limit the scope of inquiry to the technological (biological, physical, and chemical) research and development needed to enhance production of food, -3-
improve the dependability of food supplies, conserve resources, and improve nutritional intake. This limited scope, however, reflects a realistic view of capabilities, not a denial of the important interrelationships between the production and distribution of food and other phenomena and issues. Ultimately, starvation and malnutrition can only be alleviated by achieving a balance between world population and food production. In the short term, there is little this country can do to alter the population side of the earth's population-food equation. Some experts feel that the number of people in the world will almost double in the next 25 years. It is virtually inevitable that by the end of the century world population will total 5.8 billion as a minimum. Reduction in the world's gross birth rate will be partly offset by decreasing mortality. However, the decline in the birth rate itself will be retarded by the number of prospective child-bearing females in the current population who were produced by recent high birth rates. There will be a large number of young parents in the developing countries for another 50 years or so. Housing, clothing, and food for several billion more people will be required, worldwide, even if the average number of children per newly-formed family falls immediately to two. In recent years, many assessments and projections of the world food situation have been made, and priorities for food and nutrition research have been suggested, both in the U.S. and elsewhere. The World Food Conference, held in Rome on November 5-16, 1974, and sponsored by the United Nations, provided one of the major assessments. Some of the other major efforts which have been of great assistance in preparing this report are summarized in the selected references that follow this chapter. The NAS (1975b) has published a study on Population and Food: Crucial Issues in which the general features of the problems are described. In addition, a workshop sponsored by the Agriculture Development Council, convened in April 1975, yielded reports on the transfer of agricultural technology to less developed countries. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) produces periodic reports. Studies by the National Research Council (NRC) are underway on "Renewable Resources for Industrial Materials," "Climate and Weather Fluctuations and Agricultural Production," and "Food Science and Technology Needs." Symposia sponsored by professional societies have been scheduled such as Maximizing Agricultural Productivity and Food, Population, and the Environment. Entire issues of scientific journals have recently been devoted to food production. There are frequent editorials concerned with food problems. Documents on food are available prepared under contracts between individuals and government agencies. Numerous congressional hearings on food and agriculture have been held. A national working conference on Research to -U-
Meet U.S. and World Food Needs sponsored by the USDA-State Universities-Industry was held in Kansas City, Missouri, July 9 to 11, 1975, at which research needs were rated by a balloting system. The Michigan Agricultural Experiment Station and the Charles F. Kettering Foundation, with the financial support of USDA, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), National Science Foundation (NSF), and Energy Research and Development Administration (ERDA), sponsored an International Symposium on Crop Productivity, October 20 to 24, 1975. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with the cooperative efforts of industry, university, and government experts and the support of the NSF, has assessed Protein Resources and Technology: Status and Research Needs. These many reports, documents, and activities, as well as others, have been considered and used as background for the recommendations that follow. We recognize that research described in these recommendations and strategies is already in progress. Furthermore, there is a substantial body of information already at hand that would go far toward enhancement of food production if it were mobilized and delivered through appropriate channels and put to use by various government and private agencies. The issue of more effective science management sug- gested by the notion of "organizational prerequisites" for effective research deserves particular emphasis. Significant increases in funding for innovative and crucial research programs should follow from the recommendations of this report. Such increases, however, will be dissipated if certain critical managerial and organizational problems are not addressed and resolved. Archives are filled with documents, including those from the NRC, that give recommendations for future research, yet even the results of past research have not always been effectively implemented. Without change in the degree of coordination within and between the federal agencies involved in research on food, we would not expect a sharpened efficiency in the overall food research system. New investments in research and development are needed, but they should be accompanied by changes in the administrative procedures and resource management practices of the concerned agencies. A high priority should be assigned to making efficient use of new findings. Research strategy of the past, in line with the admoni- tion of Jonathan Swift in Gulliver' s Travels, was to grow two ears of corn where one grew before. Enhancement of productivity should still rank first among research priorities, but there are now other importantâand not always complementaryâobjectives. Increased production must now be sought with the lowest possible inputs of nonrenewable resources of land, water, energy, and fertilizer, and with achievable minimum environmental impacts. -5-
Stability of yield at high levels for the major food crops should become a national goal. It is essential that the relationship between production enhancement on the one hand and production dependability on the other be recognized in future planning. While the two are not necessarily mutually exclusive, they can become so if long-term dependability is sacrificed to short-term productivity. Constraints on agricultural production in the U.S. make apparent the need for research on socioeconomic factors. Although some reference is made to the desirability of studies of the socioeconomic implications of many of the recommendations in this report, its focus is on biological, physical, and chemical research needs. This restriction is recognized. It does not imply that the other concerns should receive low priority, or that the U.S. research establishment is not capable of responding to them. The report describes innovative approaches, promising quick benefits, that could be initiated now. However, other programs are considered that require long and continued effort that should also be started without delay. Specific recommendations directly relevant to these needs are given. This report represents the best collective judgment of a large array of scientists and research administrators drawn from government, academia, foundations, and industry. It is our hope that it will be of immediate usefulness to federal and state agencies and private institutions for assessing goals and setting priorities in agricultural, food, and nutrition research. SELECTED REFERENCES Food and Agriculture Organization (1974a) Resolutions Adopted by the World Food Conference. CL 64/INF/12. November. Food and Agriculture Organization (1974b) Report of the World Food Conference to the General Assembly. E/5587. December. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1975) Protein Re- sources and Technology: Status and Research Needs. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation. National Academy of Sciences (1972) Report of the Committee on Research Advisory to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Division of Biology and Agriculture, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences (1974) African Agricultural Research Capabilities. Board on Agriculture and Renewable Resources of the Commission on Natural Resources; and the Board on Science and Technology for International Development of the Commission on International Relations of the National Research -6-
Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences (1975a) Agricultural Production Efficiency. Board on Agriculture and Renewable Resources of the commission on Natural Resources, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences (1975b) Population and Food: Crucial Issues. Committee on World Food, Health and Population, National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences (1975c) World Hunger: Approaches to Engineering Actions, Committee on Public Engineering Policy. National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy of Sciences. Overseas Development Council (1975) The U.S. and World De- velopment. Agenda for Action 1975. Washington, D.C. President's Science Advisory Committee (1967) The World Food Problem. Report on the World Food Supply. Washington, D.C.: The White House. Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (1973) Potentials for International Support to Agricultural Research in Developing Countries. Rome. Technical Advisory Committee of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (1975) Draft of Summary Record and Chairman's Conclusions and Recommendations. Rome. United States Department of Agriculture (1974) The World Food Situation and Prospects for 1985. Economic Research Service, Foreign Agricultural Economics Report No. 98, Washington, D.C. United States Department of Agriculture (1975) Research to Meet U.S. and World Food Needs. I-The World Food Situation; II-Public Policy and Research Capabilities; Ill-Research Needs. Working Conference, Kansas City, Missouri, July 9-11. University of California Food Task Force (1974) A Hungry World: The Challenge to Agriculture. Summary report and general report. Berkeley: University of California Press. Wittwer, S.H. (1974) Research Recommendations for Increasing Food, Feed, and Fiber Production in the U.S.A. Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation. -7-