January 29, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Cherries are pictured on a cherry tree near Provence, Switzerland. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
Researchers at Washington State University have developed algorithms that scan a tree for individual branches, determine what bit of each branch to grasp, and shake to extract the most cherries. Between 2002 and 2014, American farms lost nearly 150,000 laborers, or 20 percent of the workforce. This new innovation gives us an intriguing vision of a robotics-fueled agriculture industry.
A new study is enumerating for the first time the thousands of changes in genes and various biological systems that may occur after even a small amount of weight gain, and which may—or may not—be reversed if the weight is then dropped. They found that 318 genes worked differently after most subjects had gained even a little weight.
A bevy of companies in China are racing to popularize cashier-less grocery stores. And while few can match Amazon’s technology right now, the speed at which the stores are opening suggests that such shopping could become widespread in China faster than it does in the US or elsewhere.
A tablespoon of soil contains billions of microscopic organisms. Life on Earth, especially the growing of food, depends on these microbes, but scientists don't even have names for most of them, much less a description. That's changing, slowly, thanks to researchers. These microbes create fertile soils, help plants grow, consume and release carbon dioxide, oxygen, and other vital elements.
Thought for Food launches the 5th edition of the TFF Challenge, inviting young leaders from around the world to sign up and develop new ideas and business concepts that tackle the challenge of sustainably feeding our world’s growing population. This year the competition is open to everyone under the age of 35.


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