April 23, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

A volunteer checks on plants inside a simulated space cabin in which he temporarily lives with others as a part of the scientistic Lunar Palace 365 Project, at Beihang University in Beijing, China. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

China’s Pioneers to the Moon Will be Flowers and Silkworms
Seeds of potatoes and arabidopsis—a small flowering plant belonging to the mustard family—along with silkworm cocoons, will hitch a ride with the Chang’e-4 lander and rover on China’s first probe to the far side of the moon in December. China hopes to create a “mini lunar biosphere” as part of its research for building a lunar base and even the possibility of long-term residence on the moon.

Antarctic Veggies: Practice for Growing Plants on Other Planets
The EDEN ISS greenhouse project is now fully operational in Antarctica. The eight-nation team of researchers grows high-water-content, pick-and-eat-plants that can't normally be stored for long periods of time. The crops include lettuce, cucumbers, radishes, Swiss chard, and various herbs. One-tenth of the yield will become research data for the potential cultivation of food in space, while the rest will help feed the crew on location.

Bringing Blockchain to the Coffee Cup
Denver’s Coda Coffee Co. now offers what it calls “the world’s first blockchain-traced coffee,” giving customers access to a cloud-based ledger that tracks every stop along their coffee’s supply chain. By scanning a QR code associated with the batch of coffee they bought, customers can see the date and location of every transaction from collection at the farm to washing and drying, milling, export, roasting, and retail.

In North Carolina, Hog Waste is Becoming a Streamlined Fuel Source
The Optima KV Project in eastern North Carolina revealed the potential to turn every hog farm in the state into a source of renewable natural gas, or what's known as swine biogas. The main purpose of creating biogas is to destroy methane and earn valuable carbon offset credits. The project has the potential to create enough renewable natural gas to power the equivalent of 1,000 homes for a year.

Is This Tomato Engineered? Inside the Coming Battle over Gene-Edited Food
The new gene-editing technologies, like Crispr-Cas9, enable scientists to achieve some of the same effects by altering the plants’ own DNA, without inserting new genes. Gene editing in plants could transform agriculture and help feed a growing global population. However, it may pose risks to human health and permanently alter the environment by spreading beyond farms, as well.

Insect Farms Gear Up to Feed Soaring Global Protein Demand
The small but growing insect farming sector has captured attention and investments from some heavyweights in the $400 billion-a-year animal feed business, including US agricultural powerhouse Cargill Inc., feed supplier and farm products and services company Wilbur-Ellis Co, and Swiss-based Buhler Group, which makes crop processing machinery.


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