February 23, 2015

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Photo courtesy of One Acre Fund/Hailey Tucker

The Future of Agriculture? Smart Farming
The agricultural sector is going to face enormous challenges in order to feed the 9.6 billion by 2050. One way to increase the quality and quantity of agricultural production is using sensing technology to make farms more “intelligent” and more connected through the so-called “precision agriculture” also known as “smart farming.” It’s already happening, as corporations and farm offices collect vast amounts of information.
Are Shrooms the New Pesticide?
Scientists in Ireland have found that growing fungus inside barley helps the plants ward off disease. Brian Murphy, a botanist at Trinity College Dublin, has also shown that an inoculation of fungus allows plants to thrive in harsh conditions. If this technology pans out, it could replace pesticides in some situations. Instead of buying seeds coated in neonicotinoids, farmers might buy seeds coated with the spores of fungi, which would then make their way inside the crop. There are already several research groups and companies playing around with fungal treatments for ag.
Edible Insects: Grub Pioneers Aim to Make Bugs Palatable
Could insects be the next sushi and bug-burgers the new sirloin steak? Chapul, which makes energy bars from finely milled crickets, hopes so. More bug-based food producers are emerging, encouraged by the FAO’s championing of insects − mini-livestock − as a sustainable alternative to conventional herds. But are western consumers ready to see bugs, more typically associated with spreading disease, as dinner?
Turning Our Mountains of Food Waste into Graphene
Blended cocoa beans, rice, fruit skins, leeks and asparagus sounds like it should be a recipe for a disastrous smoothie. But these are just some of the wasted foodstuffs that are being treated and converted into materials, with environmental benefits. Scientists have found that they can turn coffee grounds and stale bakery goods into a sugary solution that can be used to manufacture plastic.


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

America's Oxymoron

It didn’t take long for the coronavirus to expose America’s shameful secret: hunger amid abundance.