To equip agriculture and the food system to meet these challenges, the report calls on Washington to “make agricultural innovation a priority on its international and domestic agenda; for Congress and the White House to give America’s public research system a new mission of reinventing U.S. and global agriculture so it is far more productive, environmental sustainable, nutritious, and resilient to setbacks through a focus on sustainable intensification.”

Sustainable intensification, it says, would equip farmers with the innovations to increase production of nutritious foods, bringing higher incomes to small-holder farmers; conserve land and water through efficient and prudent use of inputs; improve human health through accessible food that is nutritious; adapt to climate change; reduce environmental impact; and reduce food waste along the supply chain.

It should, the report says, “include a focus on a broader set of crops to feed humanity.” While corn, wheat, and rice now supply most of humanity’s calories,“ it is becoming risky to have humanity depend so heavily on so few crops.”

Current methods of agriculture and food science “make it difficult, if not impossible,” to meet these goals, it contends. This is due to “limited incentives for scientists in other disciplines to collaborate to meet agricultural challenges, and ineffective transmission of innovations to farmers in low income countries, who are often the least productive.”

The U.S. government should, it says, “provide agricultural and food science the incentives, including the resources, it needs to fully deploy current tools such as conventional breeding, hydrology, and conservation tillage, as well as taking full advantage of an exploding array of new tools such as bioinformatics, geographic information systems, tailored precision agriculture, molecular breeding, irrigation technologies, and biofortification. This should include more funding for basic research, as well as for competitive grants to spur innovation.”

Trade and business play a critical role in achieving these goals, the report says. “Science cannot create global food security on its own. Many countries’ food security depends on trade, yet only 25 percent of food crosses borders. The U.S. should worker harder to make expanded trade and the unfettered movement of food and agricultural commodities a higher priority on its international agenda.”

While the U.S. “has proven it can provide international leadership in the quest toward global food security, with the expertise, institutions, and experience to energize the effort,” the report says the challenge is to provide “the vision and commitment of American governmental, university, research, and business leaders working alongside their international counterparts.”

If the recommendations are implemented, it says, hundreds of millions of people can be lifted out of poverty over the next two decades, while helping to insure sustainable food and nutrition security for generations to come.”

Failure to do so, it says, may put America’s domestic and international interests at risk and “the American farm belt — one of the strongest parts of the economy — could lose export opportunities and see its future prospects dim.

“Action is needed now, even in tough fiscal times,” the report says. “Feeding the world is only going to become more difficult … The U.S. government must increase its funding for agriculture and food security. The strong commitment of the U.S. Congress, the president, vice president, and cabinet officers will be critical to the success of this effort.”

The “Blueprint for Action” calls for:

  • ŸMaking global food security a high priority of U.S. economic and foreign development policy.
  • ŸForging a new science of agriculture based on sustainable intensification.
  • ŸReinvigorating trade as a food security and development tool.
  • ŸMaking market access and partnership with business a pillar of food security policy.

(Read the report at http://bit.ly/ZaqsK3)