USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture Invests in Research on the Implications of Gene Editing Technologies

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced awards to advance research on public engagement and the implications of gene drive and other gene editing technologies. The funding is made possible through the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies initiative within NIFA’s Agriculture Economics and Rural Communities (AERC)’s program area.

“Recent advances in gene editing technologies promise opportunities for meeting challenges that come with a rapidly growing global population,” said NIFA Acting Director Tom Shanower. “However, these advances also raise important questions about their acceptability and potential unintended impacts, so NIFA created the Social Implications of Emerging Technologies program in 2017 to fund research on stakeholder and public engagement with gene drive and other gene editing techniques for agricultural use.” Continue reading

Jacobs-Young Announces Shanower as Acting NIFA Director

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Acting Deputy Undersecretary for Research, Education, Economics and Acting Chief Scientist Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young announced today that Thomas Shanower will become Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). Shanower will be replacing outgoing NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy.

“Dr. Shanower brings more than 20 years of experience in scientific research and management, and he will maintain a steady hand at the helm of NIFA,” said Dr. Jacobs-Young. “NIFAs’ support of the best and brightest scientists has resulted in groundbreaking discoveries that combat childhood obesity, improve rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, explore new sources of energy, mitigate climate variability and ensure food safety. We salute Dr. Ramaswamy for his tireless enthusiasm at NIFA in support of agriculture-related research and education.” Continue reading

USDA Awards $9.4 Million for Safer, More Effective Pest Management

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today awarded $9.4 million to support 25 research and outreach projects that will help mitigate pests, weeds and diseases on farms and in communities. The awards are made through NIFA’s Crop Protection and Pest Management Program (CPPM) and Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program which have awarded more than $64.5 million since 2014.

“NIFA is making investments to ensure America’s agriculture sector is able to rely on sound scientific approaches to increase production and ensure continued food security in the face of the many challenges including arthropod, weed and disease pests,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “The Crop Protection and Pest Management Program has a history of developing new tools, best management practices and strategies for healthy crop systems while supporting communities with effective, affordable and environmentally sound solutions that reduce potential health risks.”  Continue reading

Research finding new ways to protect pollinator health

A USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Impact Spotlight

September is National Honey Month and you can’t have honey without honey bees. There are direct links between the health of American agriculture and the health of bees and other pollinators.

Pollination is critical to the production of fruits, vegetables, and nuts, which are important parts of a healthy diet. Pollination by managed honey bee colonies adds at least $15 billion to the value of U.S. agriculture annually through increased yields and superior-quality harvests. Continue reading

Marty Draper is appointed as head of KSU plant pathology department

Former USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture program leader Marty Draper is now the head of the plant pathology department at Kansas State University.

“I am excited to be getting back to the university setting, being able to work with producers, and trying to help the department become better than it already is,” Draper said in an interview with Grainnet. Continue reading

Nine project leaders will advance IPM in nursery crops, tomato and other settings

This year, researchers will find more sustainable ways to grow southern pea, experiment with interseeding cover crops with cash crops to control glyphosate-resistant weeds, and explore ways to support nursery production and other agricultural production. Nine research and extension specialists will lead projects over the next year with funding from IPM Enhancement grants. Continue reading

Overview of the President’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request for NIFA

You are cordially invited to attend an overview of the President’s proposed FY17 National Institute for Food and Agriculture Budget presented by Sonny Ramaswamy, director, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, on Tues., Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. EST.  Continue reading