September 18, 2017

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Plants roots are pictured during an exudation process at the Plant Advanced Technologies (PAT) company greenhouse in Laronxe near Nancy, Eastern France. The farmers employed at the site in Laronxe are growing plants in a special way with a view to "milking" them for use in medicines, cosmetics and agrochemicals. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler

With Designer Bacteria, Crops Could One Day Fertilize Themselves
Thanks to the microbes that live in their roots, peanuts, peas, and many types of beans can essentially make their own fertilizer. But most of the world’s biggest food crops—corn, wheat, rice—lack these fertilizer-producing microbes.  A new startup is now trying to genetically modify these fertilizer-producing microbes to be able to live in the roots of any plant. With a $100 million initial runway and some of the fastest DNA-building robots out there, the company hopes to be planting seeds in the next five years.

Seeding the Future? “Ark” Preserves Rare, Threatened Plants
Inside the freezer in Framingham are tightly sealed packages containing an estimated 6 million seeds from hundreds of plant species. They are rare varieties of plant life native to the region—in some cases found nowhere else in the world—and are in grave danger of vanishing from the landscape. Dubbed the “Seed Ark” by the New England Wild Flower Society, its purpose is to preserve a rich diversity of plant life.

Justin Kamine: Society Needs to Move Toward the Notion of a Circular Economy
Justin Kamine, managing member of Kamine Development Corporation, and Co-Founder and Partner of KDC Ag aims to transform the agriculture world via creating a more sustainable food supply chain, eliminating food and plastic waste, and developing solar projects. KDC Ag is working to find innovative solutions to eliminate food waste and increase sustainable farming, while KDC Solar has built up more than 75 megawatts of solar operational.

Strengthening Our World at the Roots: Ag-Tech and Opportunity in a Time of Change
Our world is at a crossroads. Three issues—employment, migration, and health—are set to shape the next ten years of the global economy. These are not future themes or issues where inaction is even possible, but current crises affecting people around the world, especially in the global south. For each of these three meta-issues, agriculture is at the center.  And for US agriculture and ag-tech companies, there should be big benefits.

Health at a Planetary Scale
Two hundred years ago, there were about 1 billion of us; today, we number more than 7 billion. We appropriate about half the planet’s accessible fresh water and nearly half the desert-free land surface to feed ourselves. The results are evident at a planetary scale, leading earth scientists to coin a new geological epoch: the Anthropocene, where human health and the earth’s natural systems are inexorably linked. 


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 Millicent Yeboah-Awudzi

Next Generation 2018 - Dreams of Change

Our 12th post in the Next Generation blog series is by Millicent Yeboah-Awudzi, PhD candidate in applied plant science at Louisiana State University.