Making a Difference: Food production

The world population is projected to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. Between now and then, we will need to produce more food than we have in the previous 10,000 years. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences faculty members are hard at work examining the critical questions and developing innovative solutions to the grand challenge of feeding the world. Several, showcased here, shared their work at the North Carolina Agricultural and Biotechnology Summit.

Linda Hanley-Bowdoin:
Improving the cassava plant

Cassava is Africa’s number two crop and a major source of calories for 700 million people, but it’s highly susceptible to pathogens such as cassava mosaic disease. With African colleagues and students, Dr. Linda Hanley-Bowdoin conducts basic research aimed at gaining a better basic molecular-level understanding of viruses and how they affect cassava.

 

Chad Stahl:
Impacts of early life nutrition

Animal scientist Dr. Chad Stahl conducts research on how early life nutrition affects the activity of tissue-specific stem cells responsible for lifetime fat, muscle and bone growth in pigs. His studies have implications not just for swine nutrition and production but also for important human health issues such as osteoporosis and obesity.

 

David Tarpy:
The importance of honeybees

“If it weren’t for honeybees and other pollinators, we wouldn’t have about a third of everything that we eat,” explains entomologist Dr. David Tarpy. His research on the genomics of honeybee queen development and their reproductive potential has important implications for the future of food production.

 

Penelope Perkins-Veazie:
Postharvest physiology and technology

Helping North Carolina farmers supply the East Coast with fresh, nutritious berries three to six months of the year is among the goals of Dr. Penelope Perkins-Veazie of the Plants for Human Health Institute. She discusses research to develop heat-tolerant varieties that last longer once they’ve been harvested.

 

Shuijin Hu:
Plant responses to climate change

To learn more about how plants respond to climate change, soil ecologist Shuijin Hu and his colleagues with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service investigate what happens to soil trace greenhouse gas emissions when they manipulate the carbon dioxide and air temperature in chambers where soybeans grow. Hu’s research is driven by his desire for food security and productivity on a hotter, more crowded planet of the future.

 

Gary Roberson:
North Carolina AgrAbility Partnership

All-terrain wheelchairs, truck lifts and garden scooters are among the solutions the North Carolina AgrAbility partnership has designed to help farmers with disabling illnesses or injuries remain productive. Cooperative Extension specialist Dr. Gary Roberson discusses the program and its impact.

 

Barry Goodwin:
Risk management in food production

Economist Barry Goodwin’s research, influential in national public policy, focuses on modeling risk associated with agriculture. Recently, much of that work has focused on how technological innovation affects crop yields.

 

Rodolphe Barrangou:
Using CRISPR technology

A new DNA cutting technology has changed the world of genetic studies, advancing food and agriculture, biotechnology and medical industries. Dr. Rodolphe Barrangou discusses the CRISPR technology used in his lab in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences.

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