NAS report identifies most promising breakthroughs to improve US food and agriculture systems

Helen Jensen, professor of economics, as part of the executive committee of Science Breakthroughs 2030, helped author a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report identifies the most promising scientific breakthroughs that are possible to achieve in the next decade to increase the U.S. food and agriculture system’s sustainability, competitiveness, and resilience.

Jensen was named to the committee of 13 experts in June, 2017. At the time, she said she was chosen due to her experience in food economics and to provide “a broad perspective on the food and agricultural sector, including related consumptions and nutritional implications.”

The five breakthroughs identified by the committee are:

  1. A systems approach to understand the nature of interactions among the different elements of the food and agricultural system can be leveraged to increase overall system efficiency, resilience, and sustainability.
  2. The development and validation of highly sensitive, field-deployable sensors and biosensors will enable rapid detection and monitoring capabilities across various food and agricultural disciplines.
  3. The application and integration of data sciences, software tools, and systems models will enable advanced analytics for managing the food and agricultural system.
  4. The ability to carry out routine gene editing of agriculturally important organisms will allow for precise and rapid improvement of traits important for productivity and quality.
  5. Understanding the relevance of the microbiome to agriculture and harnessing this knowledge will improve crop production, transform feed efficiency, and increase resilience to stress and disease.

The full report is available on the National Academies Press website.

(Released July 2018)