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Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief (2022)

Chapter:Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability

Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief


According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization’s report, “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World,” between 702 and 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021—and projections indicate that by 2030, 670 million people will still be experiencing hunger.1 Gains in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years have increased the availability of food globally, but much more needs to be done. Even these gains were not made without expense; biodiversity loss, chemical runoff, water scarcity, soil degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture industries, among other issues, have had extensive impacts on the health of natural and human systems during this time. While millions suffer from food insecurity, a large percentage of food is lost or wasted across the global supply chain. Addressing the multifaceted challenges of feeding a world under pressure from severe food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change, population growth, conflict, migration, and economic disruption will require transformative change to global food systems.

On February 16, 2022, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable (GUIRR) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies) convened a workshop for its membership and invited guests to discuss opportunities for supporting research and innovation to address global agricultural and human health challenges associated with the compounding pressures of producing more food, more nutritiously, and with less environmental impact.2

Serving as moderator for the first half the workshop, GUIRR co-chair Laurie Leshin (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) pointed out that to meet the demands of a population projected to grow to 10 billion people by 2050, transformative change and cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary partnerships at all scales are necessary. A key question, she said, is how to incentivize the food and agricultural sectors to genuinely collaborate to create “food-plus” results.3

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1 FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, and WHO. 2022. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022. Repurposing food and agricultural policies to make healthy diets more affordable. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. https://doi.org/10.4060/cc0639en.

2 Membership to the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable is on an annual, institutional basis. To learn more about GUIRR and to view the current list of institutions and representatives, see: https://www.nationalacademies.org/guirr/government-university-industry-research-roundtable.

3 Leshin noted the end of her term as GUIRR co-chair coincides with her transition to become the director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She also recognized the contributions of GUIRR director Susan Sauer Sloan, who retired in March 2022.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Mehmood Khan (Hevolution Foundation) provided framing remarks, stressing the need for a systems perspective to tackle issues around food. “One billion people a day are hungry, while another 1 billion are obese. Food is wasted, primarily at the post-consumer stage in the United States and at the farm level in countries without sufficient infrastructure,” he noted. He raised a number of questions for examination throughout the workshop: How can new incentives be created to find cross-sectoral solutions around distribution and logistical challenges of food already produced? With changing farm labor demographics, what will the next generation of the farming workforce look like? How can more cross-sector collaboration address inter-agency inconsistencies across policy-making? Khan noted instances when the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prioritizes subsidies for animal agriculture over fruit and vegetable production, while dietary guidelines from USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services recommend the opposite priority for a healthy human diet.

On the other hand, Khan continued, achievements in food and agriculture innovation beginning with the Green Revolution of the 1960s have saved 1 billion lives, and continue to do so. He called for U.S. leadership in developing and democratizing agricultural technology. Beyond nutritional and environmental imperatives, he stressed economic and political realities as an impetus for doing so. “Solutions must be accessible and affordable to all,” he emphasized.

FOOD SECURITY AND NUTRITION ACCESS

Ahmed Kablan (U.S. Agency for International Development [USAID]) described some of USAID’s efforts to improve access to safe, nutritious food and improve food security through the Bureau for Resilience and Food Security (RFS). The already alarming state of global food security, in which 1 in 10 people live in extreme poverty worldwide, has worsened and is likely to persist, in part because of the destabilizing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence of the dire nature of the problem is clear: 45 percent of child deaths are due to malnutrition, and about 150 million children face stunting due to malnutrition. Echoing Kahn, Kablan stressed that the dynamics and connections within the food system offer both challenges and opportunities in maximizing the impact on vulnerable people around the world (Figure 1).

In addition to the nutritional considerations of food, Kablan pointed to the problem of disease and death caused by foodborne illnesses. USAID is supporting the Food Safety Innovation Lab, which leverages global expertise with academic, government, and private sector partners in locally led projects in countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, and Senegal. Kablan also called attention to a recent World Bank report that analyzed the relationship between food loss and waste and the affordability of food, which also emphasized the importance of understanding the local context to develop solutions. Food waste predominantly occurs in highly urbanized and developed economies, and food loss predominantly occurs in developing countries.4 USAID is a leader in the U.S. government’s effort to combat food loss and waste. Kablan closed by inviting participants to work with USAID on any of these issues.

Biofortification is one way to enhance the nutritional value of staple crops that comprise the majority of the global diet, noted Lynn Brown (HarvestPlus). She defined biofortification as the process of increasing the density of vitamins and minerals in a crop through plant breeding or agronomic practices so that the biofortified crops, when consumed regularly, will generate measurable

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Figure 1 Potential for impact in the food system.
SOURCE: Presentation slide from Ahmed Kablan, USAID; presented at a workshop of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable on February 16, 2022.

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4 World Bank Group. 2020. Addressing Food Loss and Waste: A Global Problem with Local Solutions. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/34521.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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improvement in vitamin and mineral nutritional status.5 She noted HarvestPlus’s focus on staple crops, such as wheat, maize, and millet, which provide both nutritional and agricultural benefits. Brown noted, “While it is important to grow and consume other food, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, staple crops form the backbone of what farmers grow and people eat, and they are the most resilient when shocks hit the supply chain.”

HarvestPlus looks for partnerships of all sizes and at all stages of value chain: (1) agriculture research, (2) seed/vine release, (3) agricultural supply, (4) farming, (5) aggregation, (6) milling, (7) processing, and (8) retailing. Brown noted the critical importance of reaching and connecting with consumers, so they will accept, for example, the change in color of a food that results from increasing its Vitamin A content. Successful collaborations have taken place in Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the United States, among other countries.

The University of the District of Columbia (UDC), as a Historically Black College and University and the only public, land-grant institution in the nation’s capital, is in a unique position to look at how to feed an increasingly urbanizing world, explained Dwane Jones, dean of UDC’s College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability, and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES). CAUSES provides an umbrella for programs in architecture, nursing, nutrition, and other disciplines. In keeping with UDC’s land grant mission, CAUSES also looks to build agriculture in the District of Columbia, a city characterized by income disparity and differing access to healthy food across its eight wards. CAUSES develops demonstration projects on a 143-acre research farm in Beltsville, Maryland, that can be scaled or replicated in the District or elsewhere in the world through partnerships.

Jones noted that U.S. farming has evolved from a distributed, labor-intensive system on small, rural farms, to larger and more concentrated, specialized production. Modern agriculture production is concentrated in rural areas, where less than a fourth of the U.S. population lives, and the average age of farmers in the United States is nearly 60. “It’s a perfect storm—we have more people moving into urban environments, more demand for food in urban areas, issues with nutrient density, and fewer people actually going into farming,” he said. There is also a lack of diversity with regard to race. Jones noted that 95 percent of the 3.2 million food producers in the United States are white.6

CAUSES has developed an applied research model called Urban Food Systems to support a more diverse agricultural base. It supports training and innovations in sourcing (e.g., hydroponic and permaculture farming), preparation (e.g., business incubation kitchens), distribution (e.g., farmers markets and food trucks), and resource recovery (e.g., composting and anaerobic digesters). A green roof on the CAUSES building and the East Capitol Urban Farm also serve as demonstration and training sites.

Jamal Yagoobi (Worcester Polytechnic Institute) introduced Food Safety Technologies for Resilient Supply Chains (FOSTeR), a coalition of six universities involving about 40 faculty in food science, engineering, social sciences, and other disciplines.7 It grew out of a workshop sponsored by the National Science Foundation that stressed the need for a holistic approach aimed at prevention, detection, and mitigation of pathogenic organisms.8 Food safety is not just a global problem, he underscored; within the United States, it leads to 128,000 hospitalizations, 3,000 deaths, and $77 billion in costs annually. The United States imports many foods from countries with less stringent regulatory environments than in this country.

Yagoobi stressed the systemic issues in food safety, noting that because contamination can enter the food supply at multiple points, it cannot be solved by focusing at any single point in the process. A holistic approach and a diverse and inclusive workforce can lead to safety and better quality of life globally, he concluded.

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5 See https://ciat.cgiar.org/harvestplus/.

6 USDA Census of Agriculture, 2017. See https://www.nass.usda.gov/Publications/AgCensus/2017/index.php#full_report.

7 In addition to WPI, the universities are University of Illinois, Texas A&M, North Carolina A&T, Cornell, and Claflin.

8 NSF. 2014. Food Safety Global Supply Chain Needs, October 29–30, 2014. See https://digital.wpi.edu/concern/generic_works/8336h459q.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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In a discussion with the panel, a participant stressed the need in these and other agricultural endeavors to pay attention to the condition of the soil. The interaction among crops, soil, and the microbiome is complex, observed another participant, which she urged keeping front and center.

Leshin asked about ways to bring the agricultural and food industries closer together. Yagoobi suggested interactions at conferences and other settings is essential. Kablan said microfinancing could help support technology for small and medium enterprises. Brown noted the cultural aspects of food and the role of the health care system in different countries. Jones noted that systemic change is necessary, and urged training about nutrition and food starting in K-12 to demonstrate the application of new and better information we have on the intersections of food, agriculture, and health. “Small wins are needed to then go to a larger scale,” he said.

Regarding the farming population, Kablan said that farm labor is an issue in many other countries, noting Bangladesh is experiencing labor shortages as more people move from rural areas. Brown and Jones suggested that getting younger people connected to farming has to do with the question of how society recognizes and engages with the true value of farming. Jones urged engaging with youth about what interests them in the areas of food production and sustainability, as they have different approaches and ideas than previous generations.

Another participant commented that framing the issues in terms of economic development can elicit a different response from policy makers for funding. The presenters agreed that this framing is a core part of the work, such as showing the ripple effect of jobs created through agriculture systems.

Food Security, Agriculture, and Climate Change

As Lew Ziska (Columbia University) stated, all aspects of agriculture—and, by extension, food security—are affected by global climate change. He reiterated the components of food security as an adequate supply of safe, nutritious (meeting dietary needs), and available food. According to Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) data, the Green Revolution increased production at a higher level than the population increased, but production is now only barely meeting population levels. He highlighted climate change-related problems connected to agricultural practices, and suggested potential solutions.

“The changes in rainfall, temperature, and other conditions created by climate change are antithetical to sustainable farming,” Ziska said. For example, pollen becomes sterile when temperatures are too high. The safety and nutritional content of food are also impacted. Extreme weather events and other physical changes caused by climate change can disrupt the supply chain. A 2-degree increase in temperature will allow more pests to produce more offspring and/or migrate to new areas. Conflicts over water are, and will be, a threat. And from a Sustainable Development Goals point of view, Ziska noted the number of undernourished people worldwide is increasing; 50-70 million people are currently food insecure. Acute food insecurity is most significant in countries throughout the African continent.

Ziska urged a greater U.S. investment in agricultural research, which he noted is low compared to the research budgets of other agencies. The Pentagon’s budget of $768 billion works out to about $2,600 per taxpayer, he said, while the total USDA research budget works out to about $6 per taxpayer. Ziska argued that food is a critical aspect of safety, and research funding levels should reflect that principle. “It is important to communicate the urgency in ways that policy makers understand,” Ziska continued, noting that the science community and politicians often have different worldviews and priorities.

A participant noted that the Fiscal Year 2022 budget includes funding for climate-smart agriculture, and asked Ziska what priorities might guide that spending. Ziska offered several suggestions. First, he urged support for diversity in agriculture because “diversity equals resilience.” He also suggested food labeling that shows a product’s carbon footprint to change consumer patterns.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Phil Taylor (Bayer) described the company’s Open Innovation in Crop Science R&D Program, which is committed to advancing a carbon-zero and more inclusive future for agriculture—including to reduce field greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent; reduce the environmental impact of crop protection by 30 percent; and empower at least 100 million smallholder farmers to access sustainable agricultural solutions. These targets are becoming the core of the company’s business operations through an open innovation model for both incremental and disruptive innovations with a range of collaborators.

Taylor said he focuses on how to get into “new spaces.” Through open innovation sourcing, Bayer is building out its crop science open innovation ecosystem. He explained that the “1.0 model” of innovation was structured and transactional, while “2.0” is based on co-creation, crowdsourcing, and leveraging in order for Bayer to enable innovation—not just consume it.

For example, Grants4Ag provides financial support for early innovations that have the potential to affect agriculture.9 Small ($10,000), unrestricted grants have been awarded over the past three years to a diverse pool of researchers at any career stage. The researcher owns the intellectual property that may come from the work. While the grants are modest, he said, there are other valuable aspects of the program, including feedback on proposals, the pair-up of awardees with Bayer scientists, the formation of a cohort among the awardees, and a more transparent understanding of how industry works. Taylor noted that Grants4Ag has the potential to lead to larger research projects or to incubation, depending on the nature of the research. Bayer has also supported incubator start-ups in areas where it has facilities. A virtual program is now being set up to reach people in a larger geographic area.

Leaps, the strategic impact investment unit of Bayer, has invested about $1.2 billion since its establishment in 2015. It invests in breakthrough technologies and disruptive business models, uses minority equity to found new and invest in existing start-ups, focuses on early-stage innovation, creates business models that balance financial return with sustainability, and advances from “treatment to cure/prevention” in health and from “more to better” in agriculture. Taylor concluded that Bayer’s intention is to leverage partnerships, noting there are both “new stones and new ways to turn them over.”

In discussion, both Ziska and Taylor commented on the importance of widespread engagement on sustainability. Ziska noted that young people seem especially willing to act with sustainability in mind, such as by eating less meat.10 Meeting participants online raised the value of citizen and community science in monitoring invasive species and other trends affected by climate change, and an in-person participant asked about the need for adaptive management and place-based solutions. Taylor and Ziska agreed that the diversity of agriculture research priorities, and the complexity of the climate-food-agriculture nexus, means there is no one-size-fits-all solution.

Creating New Knowledge about Food

GUIRR Council member Thomas Skalak (Clara Wu and Joe Tsai Foundation) introduced Roy Steiner (Rockefeller Foundation), who presented on Rockefeller’s scientific quest to expand knowledge about food, particularly through support for the Periodic Table of Food Initiative (PTFI).

Steiner explained that while the Green Revolution, which Rockefeller was involved in as an early investor, successfully increased yields, “the global food system is failing—it is not healthy, it is not sustainable, and it is not equitable.” Taking a systems point of view, he continued, the economic costs of the food system are twice the market value of that system. In the United States, food costs about $1 trillion, but conservatively, another $2 trillion in health, biodiversity and other costs result. Nevertheless, he argued that these challenges—

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9 For more information on funding opportunities, see https://www.halo.science/company/bayer-crop-science.

10 Mario Herrero, professor of sustainable food systems and global change in the Department of Global Development at Cornell College of Agriculture and Life Sciences was scheduled to speak on this panel but was unable to participate. He planned to discuss his work on the role of livestock systems and animal proteins in healthy and sustainable global diets.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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to human health and the environment—are not a lost cause. “This can be a value-creating system, not a value-destroying system.”

To turn the failings of these systems around, Steiner said it is essential to “truly understand” food, because in reality, not enough is known about its components. Food contains thousands of biochemicals, but conventional databases only measure and track about 150. Advances in data science and mass spectrometry can offer new opportunities to understand food in a robust and standardized way. In addition, he said, because food has become such a political and social issue, good science can help guide choices by policy makers and consumers.

Despite advancements in the area, current mass spectrometry molecular analysis techniques still yield unreliable results with low replicability across different laboratories studying the composition of food. For example, 927 compounds were identified in identical samples of apples sent to 10 leading labs, with only 14 compounds in common among them. Diversity is another challenge. From a total of 7,000 to 20,000 species of plants and animals that can be eaten, about 1,700 of them regularly show up in diets across regions. The USDA database covers 457 foods and FAO covers 255, meaning that the most important, globally consumed foods have still not been analyzed. “This shows there is a lot of room to advance science,” he observed.

Steiner said that the Periodic Table of Food Initiative launch will create opportunities for transformation of nutrition and agriculture as (or perhaps even more) impactful than the Human Genome Initiative, given the number of diseases that are diet-related. The goal is, within 10 years, to standardize and democratize food analyses. A new technology platform that can conduct multiple categories of analysis in one place (e.g., ionomics, lipidomics, etc.) that is both more comprehensive and less costly than current efforts is in development. PTFI will coordinate across research nodes to populate a global, public database that can integrate with existing platforms. Current databases may identify a carrot as a food, for example, but not important characteristics such as where and how it was grown, or how it was stored or processed. “These metadata are essential for good science,” he said.

PTFI selected a co-secretariat led by the American Heart Association and the Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Steiner pointed to the fact that the two entities remarkably and uniquely represent the different worlds of international health research and international agriculture research. The Initiative has current Centers of Excellence at UC Davis and Wageningen University, and more will be set up across the world, so that there will be a Center of Excellence on each continent—all contributing to the same database using the same methods. Once the first 1,000 foods are analyzed, the database will be open for all food researchers to analyze their samples and contribute to the database. Examples of topic areas may include personalized nutrition, the impact of food on cognition and human performance, prevention of stunting, health and equity implications of processed foods, and more.

PTFI is funded in partnership with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (see the presentation by FFAR Director Sally Rockey below). A related project, carried out with the Seerave Foundation in Switzerland and other partners, is the Microbiota Vault, which is collecting and analyzing microbiome samples from around the world to store in a military-style bunker before they are lost forever. Microbiota provide essential services to support metabolism, the immune systems, nervous system, and more within the body, but the loss of traditional lifestyles and urbanization has reduced people’s microbial diversity by half. “This is the foundational work that is needed to understand what we are eating and how it is being digested,” he said.

The formal launch for PTFI is scheduled for spring 2022. It proposes to deliver higher quality, standardized evidence and accelerate population benefit in the next five years; without it, the science would likely only emerge in fits and starts over several decades, Steiner said.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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The Future of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Production

GUIRR co-chair Al Grasso commented that the previous presentations reinforced the need for behavior and systems-level changes. The next session carried these themes forward in the areas of research, development, and policy that will transform the sustainability and security of the food system.

Chavonda Jacobs-Young (USDA Agricultural Research Service [ARS]) concurred with previous speakers that with complex challenges, a systems approach is needed—no single organization can solve the challenges alone. Partnerships are important to bring together scientists and professionals across disciplines. Jacobs-Young explained that ARS supports mission-driven scientific solutions to national and global agricultural challenges. As an intramural research agency, ARS has 690 projects carried out by about 2,000 PhD scientists with a FY 2021 $1.8 billion budget. About one-third of the laboratories are on land-grant campuses.

ARS climate-change research is focused on adaptation and mitigation, which includes creating decision tools and predictive tools for precision agriculture at all scales and landscapes; adaptive animal and crop breeding with CRISPR and other cutting-edge tools; measurement and mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and production from different pastures, crop land, and rangelands; assessment and allocation of water resources; landscape management, including the impacts of wildfire and invasive species; food safety; and new products and uses, such as the use of corn stover for biofuel.

Related to the partnerships for data-driven decision-making, Jacobs-Young noted that the ARS Long-Term Agrosystem Research (LTAR) Network sites are co-located with some National Science Foundation Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network sites. As a long-standing agency within USDA, she noted that ARS has decades of data to share, and a high-performance computing network called SCINet is being set up. In terms of future needs to build on the climate science ARS has conducted for decades, Jacobs-Young identified new sensors, broadband in rural communities where data are collected, and how to measure impact.

Sally Rockey (Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research [FFAR]) explained that the foundation was started with Congressional appropriations through the 2014 Farm Bill, but all awards are matched with non-federal funds. Its mission is to build unique private-public partnerships to support innovative science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR has supported nearly $1 billion in research. Beyond research, FFAR is very interested in supporting next-generation scientists, including endowment of the first prize for food and agriculture at the National Academy of Sciences and two fellowship programs.11 Most of the work supports pioneering research in six challenge areas: soil health, sustainable water management, next-generation crops, advanced animal systems, urban food systems, and the health-agriculture nexus.

Rockey also discussed public-private partnerships. FFAR has had more than 550 distinct partners over the last five years. While difficult to form and maintain, Rockey said the benefits include more innovation, discovery of untapped mutual interest in the precompetitive space, synergies and economies of scale, and greater access to data for all. She noted that to receive FFAR support, an awardee must agree that all data and results are public.

FFAR supports Grand Challenges in Ag, and she described two related to climate change and feeding the world. According to the World Bank, Rockey said, 40 percent of the world’s landmass is under the stewardship of farmers and ranchers. Farmers depend on the planet and want to contribute to its health. Despite claims in the media and elsewhere that farming is a major contributor of GHG emission, Rockey said, “It is important for us in the agricultural space to say that we are not starting from zero and we have been pursuing and obtaining sustainable production for many years.” There is more

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11 Shortly after the workshop, Dr. Rockey retired as FFAR executive director, and the program was renamed the Rockey FFAR Fellows Program in honor of her commitment to supporting young scientists. For more information, see https://foundationfar.org/what-we-do/scientific-workforce/rockey-ffar-fellows/.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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to be done, she said, and agriculture can be a solution to both adaptation and mitigation.

Good things are happening but efforts are very fragmented, Rockey continued. Hundreds of databases and thousands of researchers are working toward common goals. She called for the community to come together, as done with the Human Genome Initiative, in a project called AgMission.12 The solution is to empower agriculture to achieve net negative GHG emissions an unprecedented collaboration with farmers, ranchers, and scientists to co-create climate-smart farming solutions. A capital campaign to raise $100 million is taking place with several private sector, nonprofit, and foundation partners already committed.

Other FFAR-funded efforts include the Ecosystems Services Market Research Consortium, which will launch in May 2022; Greener Cattle Initiative; and Dairy Soil & Water Regeneration Project. She characterized the “weird relationship between agriculture and nutrition.” The common entry point is food as a key output of agriculture and key input of nutrition, but availability of food is not enough to ensure good nutrition. The challenge is not just to feed people, but feed them well. “It is important to work with the private sector to address regulatory and consumer issues and gain public trust,” she urged. Two FFAR-supported projects related to this are Crops of the Future—consortia that are developing resilient crops with the genes and traits to both thrive and have higher nutritional content—and Harvest for Health, which is designed to accelerate the uptake of underutilized crops to get them into the food chain.

Ignacio Martinez (Flagship Pioneering) provided an overview of the company, which conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability as a “factory of new companies.” Founded in 2000, Flagship integrates three usually separate domains: scientists, investors, and entrepreneurs. Teams develop concepts for multiple companies in a parallel manner; about five to seven launch annually. The process to create a pipeline of disruptive companies has four phases.

First, many hypotheses are generated and tested, and, second, a few are selected for prototyping and feasibility testing. If a project survives this 6- to 12-month process, it enters a third phase, called NewCo. Finally, some few are spun out with external staff and governance. “We do this time and time again,” Martinez said, adding that adjacencies to an original idea are often explored as well. He noted that the companies initially start out with numbers—not names—to avoid getting attached to them until they have proven themselves. “Flagship Pioneering is positioned to translate breakthrough technologies to different industries in human and planetary health, and to accelerate the transition to a sustainable agriculture system,” Martinez said.

Martinez shared a snapshot of four companies in the agricultural portfolio, including one that is developing a model for sustainable agriculture called CIBO.13 Flagship Pioneering also supports a Fellows Program in which PhD candidates across health, nutritional, and agricultural disciplines spend three months at the company. This mingling has proven to be highly successful in generating new ideas and connections.

Gregory Belt (EverGrain) said EverGrain, an ingredient company backed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, originated in 2013 as a way to tackle food waste. EverGrain captures the leftover nutrients, in the form of barley protein and fiber, of around 30,000 metric tons of grain left over from beer brewing and transforms them into edible ingredients for human consumption. According to Belt, the entire brewing industry has 9 million metric tons of leftover grain annually, and AB-InBev’s production accounts for 1.4 million metric tons. EverGrain aspires to capture over 1 million metric tons.

EverGrain located a food scientist at University College Cork in Ireland in an exploratory collaboration to repurpose what the industry calls “brewers’ spent grain.” In 2016, they invested in a start-up called Zea10 to validate the technology capable of producing protein and fiber ingredients. They discovered various end uses for the grain. EverGrain had a public launch in 2021 and is moving from start-up to a more mature phase. The

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12 See https://agmission.org/.

13 For more information, see https://www.cibotechnologies.com.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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company has also paved the way for other ideas within the Anheuser-Busch network, such as a fermentation company called BioBrew.

In the discussion, a member of the audience asked Belt about how EverGrain thinks about product lifecycle in the industry. He noted the connection with AB InBev’s Smart Agriculture program, a team of agronomists around the world working with growers to create better ingredients. Another audience member asked about collaboration and research on the unique nutritional needs of young children. Jacobs-Young explained that the USDA/ ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center is hosted by the Baylor College of Medicine, where researchers are focused on addressing the specific nutritional needs of children in the first 1000 days. Rockey commented that a number of companies and foundations are focused on preventing “stunting”—almost one third of children around the world are stunted in the first 1000 days of life, which affects overall health and development throughout the rest of their lives.14

Curbing and Preventing Food Loss and Waste

As touched on throughout the day, while millions of people are food-insecure, a large percentage of food is wasted. Shannon Kenny (Environmental Protection Agency [EPA]) drew from a new EPA report that characterizes the lifecycle environmental impact of growing, processing, packaging, and distributing food that is ultimately wasted in the United States.15 In addition to the impact on the environment, reducing food waste would conserve resources, help feed a growing population, and meet the U.S. goal to halve food loss and waste by 2030, with a focus on retail and consumer waste within the cradle-to-consumer food supply chain.

In the food recovery hierarchy used by EPA, preferred solutions to halving food loss and waste include source reduction, feeding hungry people, and feeding animals; Industrial uses of food waste, composting, and incineration or landfill utilization are less preferred. The United States loses or wastes more than one-third of its food during all stages of the food supply chain, with estimates ranging from 492 to 1,032 pounds per person per year, according to Kenny. Even if the surplus food could be donated to food-insecure Americans, she added, there would still be a significant amount of food waste. In the United States, about one-half of food is wasted at the consumption stage, which is where EPA is putting its efforts, but upstream decisions (such as lack of clarity about expiration dates on perishable food or packaging sizes) drive some of this waste. Fruits and vegetables, followed by dairy and eggs, are the most wasted foods. Environmental impacts are affected by the amount, category, and supply chain stage at which food is lost or wasted, and the impacts are cumulative: Waste on the farm has less of an environmental impact than waste at the consumer stage in the home.

The EPA report’s findings include that the environmental footprint of U.S. food loss and waste accounts for the equivalent of 16 percent of the nation’s agricultural land, 17 percent of freshwater used, 42 percent of total fertilizers used, and 20 percent of energy used. It also represents 16 percent of GHG emissions. By contrast, preventing food waste provides significant benefits; for this reason, she said, the Administration’s emphasis is on prevention, not recycling.

In a global context, Kenny said, “The United States accounts for 10 percent of the world’s food waste although has 5 percent of the world’s population.” Per person, by income bracket, the United States has by far the highest amount of consumer food waste, according to World Bank estimates. The environmental footprint is also larger because American food waste is greater downstream (by consumers) versus upstream (on farms). Some countries have made particularly great progress in reducing food waste, especially the United Kingdom and Netherlands. “This progress elsewhere shows it can be done in the United States,” Kenny noted.

Kenny closed by suggesting ways that researchers could contribute by: (1) working across research disciplines, including social sciences, and communities to find solutions; (2) partnering with upstream sectors

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14 For more information on stunting and child nutrition, see “Stunting Policy Brief,” World Health Organization and 1,000 Days, https://thousanddays.org/wp-content/uploads/Stunting-Policy-Brief.pdf.

15 EPA. 2021. From Farm to Kitchen: The Environmental Impacts of U.S. Food Waste. A forthcoming report will focus on impacts from the consumer through disposal of food. https://www.epa.gov/system/files/documents/2021-11/from-farm-to-kitchen-the-environmental-impacts-of-u.s.-food-waste_508-tagged.pdf.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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to test strategies to prevent consumer food waste; (3) uncovering drivers of food waste unique to the United States; and (4) refining understanding of the environmental impacts of food waste and tradeoffs among food waste management pathways.

Roni Neff (Johns Hopkins University) is a program director within the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future and co-director of the NSF-funded RECIPES (Resilient, Equitable, and Circular Innovations with Partnership and Education Synergies). Based on this and other work, she discussed leveraging partnerships, research, and the need for nuanced strategies to maximize co-benefits and halve food waste.

Co-benefits of reducing food waste include climate and environmental impacts, nutrition, food safety, short-term and long-term food security, environmental justice, and jobs. Potential solutions involve policy changes, innovation, and engagement. One study looking at 40 potential solutions showed that a $14 billion annual investment would result in $73 billion net financial benefit as well as many other measurable benefits.

Neff explained that choosing which goal to prioritize helps determine which solutions to prioritize. For example, when aiming to reduce GHG emissions or accrue a net financial benefit, the top three solutions are portion sizing, meal kits, and a consumer education campaign.16 In contrast, if the goal is to divert landfill waste, then centralized composting, centralized anaerobic digestion, and co-digestion at wastewater treatment plants would have the greatest effect. Reducing food waste can provide the co-benefits she identified, but she cautioned it must be done right; it is not the entire solution; and it involves tradeoffs. She reviewed research on four such tradeoffs.

First, waste rises with healthy eating, mostly because of food perishability.17 Thus, she said, a solution for better nutrition has to address food waste, such as by educating consumers. Second, people receive public health messages that lead them to discard food because of concern about food poisoning and a desire to eat the freshest food.18 One solution might be to clarify date-labeling. A third tradeoff relates to behaviors around composting. In one study, consumers discarded more food if they thought it would be composted.19 To extrapolate, food composting programs must explain the importance of waste prevention. Fourth, there are tradeoffs in the levels of the food waste hierarchy. An anaerobic digestion facility is constructed with the assumption that it will process a certain amount. But a food bank may also be counting on that food. To avoid this competition, better communication is needed to achieve optimal usage.

“The tradeoffs point to the fact that food waste strategies are complex and nuanced,” Neff said. It is important to avert undesired consequences, test solutions with an eye to the full range of consequences, and involve the full range of stakeholders, including front-line workers who are most affected.

A National Academies study committee, of which Neff was a member, noted the need for better design of research and measurement.20 The committee suggested three pathways in reducing food waste: changes in food environment; consumer motivation, opportunity, and ability; and leveraging, application of research findings, and technology (Figure 2).

Roles within this strategy exist for multiple stakeholders, including agencies and universities. Voluntary industry agreements can contribute, with the Courtauld Commitment in the United Kingdom and the Pacific Coast Collaborative Agreement as examples.21 Neff concluded

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16 For more information on the models behind these recommendations, see ReFED’s Roadmap to 2030: Reducing U.S. Food Waste by 50% and the ReFED Insights Engine (https://refed.org/uploads/refed_roadmap2030FINAL.pdf).

17 Z. Conrad, M.T. Niles, D.A. Neher, E.D. Roy, N.E. Tichenor, and L. Jahns. 2018, Relationship between food waste, diet quality, and environmental sustainability. PLoS ONE, https:// doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0195405

18 R. Neff, M.L. Spiker, and P.L. Truant. 2105. Wasted Food: U.S. Consumers’ Reported Awareness, Attitudes, and Behaviors. PLoS ONE.https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0127881.

19 D. Qi, and B. Roe. 2017. Foodservice composting crowds out consumer food waste reduction behavior in a dining experiment. Allied Social Sciences Association invited paper. American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 99(5): 1159–1171.

20 Neff noted she was a member of the National Academies committee that produced the consensus report A National Strategy to Reduce Food Waste at the Consumer Level, available at https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25876/anational-strategy-to-reduce-food-waste-at-the-consumer-level.

21 For more information, see https://wrap.org.uk/taking-action/food-drink/initiatives/courtauld-commitment and http://www.pacificcoastcollaborative.org.

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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FIGURE 2 A national strategy to reduce food waste at the consumer level.
SOURCE: NASEM, A National Strategy to Reduce Food Waste at the Consumer Level, https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25876/a-national-strategy-to-reduce-food-waste-at-the-consumer-level. Presentation slide from Roni Neff, Johns Hopkins University; presented at a workshop of the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable on February 16, 2022.

that addressing food waste has many co-benefits, but the solutions are complex. An intentional strategic effort is required, rooted in partnerships and research. Target-measure-act is an opportunity for every organization and society as a whole.

The Farmlink Project was created during the pandemic, when university students saw consumers experiencing food shortages and farmers throwing out surplus food, said James Kanoff (Farmlink). Farmlink connects farms with surplus to food banks, and it has delivered more than 250 million servings while greatly reducing carbon emissions from wasted food. It was created and is run by students with almost no resources, and highlights the opportunities and benefits of partnerships.

At the start of the pandemic, Kanoff and other students started calling farmers about donating food they would have to throw away to local food banks in the Los Angeles area that were running out of food. Finally, a farmer responded that he had surplus eggs. They drove to the farm with rented trucks and delivered 10,000 eggs to a local food bank. When they shared what they did on social media, the effort grew across the country. Within three weeks of having the idea, the group coordinated the donation of 1 million pounds of fresh fruit and vegetables. Hundreds of students from 93 universities joined Farmlink. Many draw on their studies, for example in business, engineering, and communications. In 20 months, 65 million pounds of food were delivered and 100 million pounds of carbon emissions avoided. In addition, they have greatly lowered the costs so that for every 1 dollar, 50 pounds of produce goes to families. Partnerships with industry, grassroots organizations, and others have formed. Part of the success, he said, is a “scrappy approach” and to learn through each iteration.

Kanoff concluded with three calls to action. First, a small grant could scale a program like this to provide families with fresh food while reducing carbon emissions from otherwise wasted food. Second, scale up is needed, given the enormity of the emissions problem. He urged development of pilot programs to reduce food waste to provide field-tested solutions to meet the goal of halving food waste by 2030. Third, the lessons learned from FarmLink related to humility, speed, and heart extend to all potential solutions. Building on the students’ action-oriented approach may help reach food system and climate goals. “If there is a will, there is a way,” Kanoff concluded.

Grasso concluded the session by thanking the speakers for sharing their research and stories of impact. He concluded, “These discussions highlighted a number of significant priorities for research and collaboration that are important to people’s health and the health of the planet—the discussion should continue across sectors.”

Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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DISCLAIMER This Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief was prepared by PAULA WHITACRE as a factual summary of what occurred at the meeting. The statements made are those of the author or individual meeting participants and do not necessarily represent the views of all meeting participants; the planning committee; or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

PLANNING COMMITTEE ROGER BEACHY, Washington University in St. Louis; SALLY ROCKEY, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research; HAROLD SCHMITZ, University of California, Davis.

STAFF SUSAN SAUER SLOAN, Director, GUIRR; MEGAN NICHOLSON, Senior Program Officer; CHRISTA NAIRN, Senior Program Assistant; CLARA SAVAGE, Senior Finance Business Partner; CYRIL LEE, Financial Assistant.

REVIEWERS To ensure that it meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity, this Proceedings of a Workshop Series—in Brief was reviewed by ELIZABETH ALLEN, Northeastern University, and STEPHEN LONG, University of Illinois. MARILYN BAKER, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, served as the review coordinator.

SPONSORS This workshop was supported by the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable membership, National Institutes of Health, Office of Naval Research, and the United States Department of Agriculture.

Suggested citation: National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop—in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/26689.

For additional information, visit http://www.nas.edu/guirr.

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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Suggested Citation:"Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop - in Brief." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2022. Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/26689.
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Supporting Cross-Sector Partnerships for Food Security and Sustainability: Proceedings of a Workshop–in Brief Get This Book
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According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's report, "State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World," between 702 and 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021 - and projections indicate that by 2030, 670 million people will still be experiencing hunger. Gains in agricultural productivity over the past 60 years have increased the availability of food globally, but much more needs to be done. Even these gains were not made without expense; biodiversity loss, chemical runoff, water scarcity, soil degradation, and greenhouse gas emissions from food and agriculture industries, among other issues, have had extensive impacts on the health of natural and human systems during this time. While millions suffer from food insecurity, a large percentage of food is lost or wasted across the global supply chain. Addressing the multifaceted challenges of feeding a world under pressure from severe food insecurity, malnutrition, climate change, population growth, conflict, migration, and economic disruption will require transformative change to global food systems.

To discuss opportunities for supporting research and innovation to address global agricultural and human health challenges associated with the compounding pressures of producing more food, more nutritiously, and with less environmental impact, the Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine convened a workshop for its membership and invited guests on February 16, 2022. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussion of the workshop.

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