Earlier this year, a report was circulating from desk to desk in the White House. This document, from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, suggested that the United States was not prepared for the agricultural problems of the future: climate change, new pests, environmental degradation, and poor nutrition.
Our Nation’s agricultural research enterprise is not prepared to meet the challenges that U.S. agriculture faces in the 21st century for two major reasons. First, PCAST finds that the proportion of Federal funding for agricultural research allocated through competitive mechanisms is far below the proportion in other agencies, which fails to adequately encourage innovation. Second, PCAST finds that the current agricultural research portfolio is not optimally balanced; it overlaps with private sector activities in several significant areas, while underfunding other important areas that are not addressed through private efforts.
In other words, we should be investing more money on ag research, and less of that money should go to science that primarily aids agribusiness. How do you fix this problem? Well, according to the president’s advisors, you create an entire “new innovation ecosystem for agriculture.”
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