Marty Matlock, area director of the Center for Agricultural and Rural Sustainability at the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture, has been appointed to the USDA Advisory Committee on Biotechnology and 21st Century Agriculture. The committee appointment was announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

Matlock, who is also a professor of ecological engineering in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, is one of 22 committee members from 16 states. The members represent the biotechnology industry, the organic food industry, farming communities, the seed industry, food manufacturers, state government, consumer and community development groups, the medical profession and academic researchers.

"I hope this committee will recommend workable solutions that will enhance the ability of all farmers to grow the crops they want in order to effectively meet the needs of their customers," Vilsack said.

Matlock is an ecological engineer with 20 years experience measuring and designing systems for enhancing ecosystem services. His work has focused on watershed ecosystem processes that affect water quantity and quality.

"We will share Earth with between 9 and 10 billion people in 40 years," Matlock said. "We currently use 43 percent of Earth's surface for production of food, feed and fiber. Land available for growing food will also have to begin to provide fuel as demand for energy exceeds global petroleum resources. Preserving ecosystem services in the biosphere to meet these demands will require balancing a range of opportunities and costs. Over 70 percent of us already live in water scarce areas; this is expected to get worse as populations increase. Availability of water will limit the prosperity of humanity; we must use every tool in our toolbox, and invent some new tools, if we are to enhance human prosperity and preserve a functioning biosphere."