New Report Highlights Research Breakthroughs at 11 Universities
Posted March 03, 2017
Dr. Christopher Seabury represents Texas A&M
University at Congressional briefings
in Wasinghton, DC.
From Removing Peanut Allergens to Protecting
Tomatoes with Caterpillar Saliva, Coalition’s effort sets the table
for stronger support of food and agricultural science in 2018 Farm
WASHINGTON, DC (March 2, 2017)—Pointing to achievements that
include a new process to remove allergens from peanuts, 11 research
universities called for stronger federal support of the food and
agricultural sciences. Their new report, "Retaking the
Field—Strengthening the Science of Farm and Food Production,"
explores research projects funded by the USDA National Institute of
Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Agriculture and Food Research
Initiative (AFRI) at each institution.
“The drought in federal funding of food and agricultural
research still exists,” said Thomas Grumbly, President of the
Supporters of Agricultural Research (SoAR) Foundation. “But farmers
need a flood of research breakthroughs, and AFRI’s limited budget
only allows for a trickle.”
The new Retaking the Field report— the second in SoAR’s
series — shows how scientists are solving some of the thorniest
questions in food production despite the USDA’s limited research
budget. Even as the research budget for all federal agencies has
climbed, USDA’s share has nearly been cut in half.
Grumbly notes that AFRI’s funding levels illustrate this trend.
The program, which was first established in the 2008 Farm Bill,
currently receives only half of its authorized level of $700
million. As a result, the rate in which proposals for AFRI funding
receive approval hovers just above 10 percent, far below the rates
found in European countries and elsewhere.
“Researchers are solving some of the most important problems
that farmers face,” added Grumbly, “from Bovine Respiratory
Disease, which infects more than one out of every five beef cattle
in feedlots, to rice and wheat rust, which keeps evolving to
overcome scientists’ efforts to breed resistance. Too often, their
success hinges on whether they secure enough funding to keep the
lab doors open. Too much top quality, high-impact research is
unfunded and left on the cutting room floor.”
The 11 groundbreaking research teams profiled in Retaking
the Field include:
University—Susan McCouch, PhD, and colleagues
cross-referenced genetic details with climate and harvest data over
the past 40 years for every rice-growing region in the U.S. to help
plant breeders develop new weather-specific varieties.
University—Hongwei Xin, PhD, and colleagues developed
adaptations for cage-free egg production systems that improve
indoor-air quality and allow more farmers to respond to consumer
demand by adapting cage-free systems.
University—Barbara Valent, PhD, and colleagues examined the
blast fungus, which has long afflicted rice crops and now infects
wheat fields, to determine new ways that plants can resist the
pathogen and overcome its ability to evolve.
University—Gale Strasburg, PhD, and colleagues examined the
impacts of heat stress on turkey muscle development. In developing
methods to boost heat stress tolerance, the researchers help
farmers produce better meat.
Agricultural and Technical State University—Jianmei Yu, PhD,
and colleagues devised a process that removes 98 percent of the
major allergens in roasted peanuts using a naturally occurring
enzyme, and then engineered the process to treat raw peanuts as
University—Chang-Won Lee, PhD, and colleagues examined and
catalogued the microbiome in a chicken’s respiratory tract, the
first step in developing management systems that can lower the
level of pathogens hurting production.
University—Gary Felton, PhD, and colleagues analyzed how the
saliva of caterpillars and other insect excretions trigger the
defenses of crop plants, providing a new path for plant breeders to
explore as they develop more resistant cultivars.
University—James E. Womack, PhD, and colleagues found at
least 150 regions of the cattle genome that could be associated
with resistance as well as susceptibility to Bovine Respiratory
Disease in beef and dairy cattle. Christopher Seabury, PhD,
represented this team and the Texas A&M College of Veterinary
Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Congressional briefings on
the SoAR "Retaking the Field" report on Fri., Mar. 3, 2017 in
Nebraska, Lincoln—Daniel C. Ciobanu, PhD, and colleagues
identified genetic markers in sows associated with the earlier
onset of puberty, allowing the pigs to produce more litters in
their lifetime and increasing production efficiency.
Tech—John McDowell, PhD, and colleagues developed new tools
for identifying and managing the oomycete pathogens that plague
soybeans and other row crops. They also discovered a separate
California, Davis—Jorge Dubcovsky, PhD, and colleagues have
mapped out more than 90,000 genetic markers in wheat plants and
identified the markers that are linked to further increases in
productivity and resistance to dangerous pathogens.
# # #
The SoAR Foundation leads a
non-partisan coalition representing more than 6 million farming
families, 100,000 scientists, hundreds of colleges and universities
as well as consumers, veterinarians, and others. SoAR educates
stakeholders about the importance of food and agricultural research
to feed America and the world and advocates for full funding of
USDA’s Agriculture Food and Research Initiative (AFRI). SoAR
supports increased federal investments to encourage top scientists
to create agricultural solutions that improve public health,
strengthen national security, and enhance U.S. economic
For more information about SoAR, visit http://supportagresearch.org
Contact information for SoAR Dan Klotz, 301-280-5756 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the Retaking the Field report can be downloaded
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