June 23, 2014

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

We are launching a new series, Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations, to highlight approaches, technologies, and ideas that have the potential to radically advance sustainable and nutritious food security globally. The Global Food for Thought News Brief and blog will regularly feature the latest news and events regarding these big ideas and emerging innovations. Contact us to share your thoughts and ideas for this series.


How Cows Are Becoming Smart Connected Products
A Texas-based startup wants to bring universal connectivity to cows by feeding them electronic pills that will sit in their stomachs and transmit their vital signs to farmers, heading off costly livestock illnesses or death. Electronically checking cattle’s vitals could cut down on what the USDA estimates is nearly $2.4 billion a year in losses from animal illnesses that lead to death.

The ‘Super’ Banana that Fights for Truth, Justice and Healthy Levels of Vitamin A
Each year, vitamin A deficiency inflicts between 250,000 and 500,000 young people with early-life blindness, and in half of those cases, it also brings death. Scientists are now genetically engineering “super” bananas that are fortified with alpha- and beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. The project is backed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Young Foresters Help Improve Forests' Food Access, Economic Influence
Patches of trees outside of forests, even in urban areas, can be important ecosystems, providing many of the same resources and opportunities as large forested areas, especially in terms of food sources. Young foresters, especially in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, are taking the lead in studying how these patches can improve food and nutrition in communities.

Global Land Prices and the Future of Farming
We already produce enough food to feed 9 billion people, but an estimated 40 per cent of it is lost in the production chain. Clearly, there is room for efficiency. And that has less to do with land purchasing and more with investments in farming like sustainable irrigation systems and the adoption of military-led technology in drone surveillance and remote soil monitoring.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA


| By Roger Thurow

Our New Gordian Knot

Fifty years ago Dr. Norman Borlaug recieved the Nobel Peace Prize for cutting the "Goridan knot" of population and food production. Now the planet faces another seemingly intractable problem: how to nourish the planet while preserving the planet.