‘Breakthrough 2030’ to determine best scientific advancements for ag

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has launched “Breakthroughs 2030,” a $1.12 million initiative the organization has described as an “innovative effort to determine the greatest scientific opportunities in the next decade within the fields of food and agriculture.”

Breakthroughs 2030 will tap into the knowledge and experience of the U.S. research community to respond to the numerous reports issued by government and non-governmental organizations on the relationship of the food and agricultural system to public health, food security, national security, trade, economic development, and the environment.

The initiative will be chaired by John Floros and Susan Wessler. Floros is dean of the College of Agriculture and director of Research and Extension at Kansas State University; Wessler is a distinguished professor of genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor at the University of California, Riverside, as well as home secretary for the National Academy of Sciences.

“Given the challenges facing agriculture—from producing more food, to using less land and fewer resources—we need innovation more than ever,” said Thomas Grumbly, president of the Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation, which helped conceive and fund Breakthroughs 2030.

“Dr. Wessler and Dr. Floros have excellent reputations, and their backgrounds are ideal for the crucial task ahead,” he said.

Sally Rockey, executive director of the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, added, “I look forward to the leadership of Dr. Wessler and Dr. Floros as co-chairs of this important effort to identify prime areas of scientific opportunity and spur collaboration across disciplines and stakeholder groups.”

She added: “I am confident that with these outstanding co-chairs at the helm, Breakthroughs 2030 will result in a compelling scientific vision for the future that incorporates the diverse expertise and innovative approaches being applied to address food and agriculture challenges.”

Breakthroughs 2030 will work through the National Academies independent study process, and will include input from hundreds of researchers and stakeholders to determine a vision that capitalizes on emerging trends, encourages greater interdisciplinary research, and informs the decisions of policymakers and academic leaders.

Food and agriculture research stakeholders also will be invited to participate in the process through a still-to-be-developed interactive website and a town hall planned for this summer.

A public launch reception for Breakthroughs 2030 is scheduled for June 14 at the National Academies of Science headquarters in Washington, D.C.

For more information on the Breakthroughs 2030 study and to sign up for updates, go to http://nas-sites.org/dels/studies/agricultural-science-breakthroughs.