Lecturer shares USAID experience of feeding the world

Max Rothschild
Max Rothschild
Guest lecturer Iowa State University Professor Dr. Max Rothschild has spent the last year as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington, sharing his ideas on how healthy livestock can play a key role in helping feed the world.

With the world’s population expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, concern over how to feed the world is growing. Though estimates vary, Rothschild said that 925 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger and 3.5 million children die each year from malnutrition. The problem isn’t inadequate food distribution, but the lack of food production capacity in areas where people are hungry.

Rothschild, Distinguished Professor of Animal Science at Iowa State and National Swine Genome coordinator, gave a lecture March 22 for faculty and students in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He shared his experiences working with development in Uganda and as a fellow at USAID.

In order to feed the projected 9 billion humans, the world must increase agricultural production by 70 percent worldwide. Feed the Future — the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative — seeks to help farmers in developing countries produce more food and get more food to market. The program also supports research and development for agriculture in a changing climate; supports trade and policies that promote trade; and improves access to nutritious food.

Rothschild said that genomics and molecular tools can offer some solutions to the problems of plant and animal diseases that strike crops and livestock in developing countries. Molecular tools can be used to develop improved crops, while animal vaccines offer some protection against livestock diseases. East Coast Fever, which kills domestic animals, is an example of a disease that could be controlled by vaccines, Rothschild said.

Much of his year as a Jefferson Science Fellow, Rothschild has worked to persuade others that animal agriculture, as well as crop production, can be a viable solution to hunger. Rothschild has been involved in goat genome research on the continent of Africa, examining the different “signatures of selection” in goat breeds to determine how they differ across regions.

Rothschild also offered a more technical look at genomics at a student lecture.

–Written by Natalie Hampton, 919.513.3128 or natalie_hampton@ncsu.edu

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