Longtime blog readers may remember that, back in October 2017, GFI submitted a letter to the USDA. The letter was in response to a public request from the USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI was looking for input on which research and development areas hold the greatest potential to achieve a more sustainable agricultural system. Luckily, we had some ideas!
Recently AFRI released their competitive grants announcement for their Foundational and Applied Science program. Imagine my excitement when I found the following statements:
Development of innovative production systems to optimize the production of plant-based products are welcome in this program area priority.
Technologies such as gene drives and genome editing, big data, nanotechnology, and lab grown meat, have tremendous capability in shaping the future of agriculture, requiring the scientific community to develop effective means of communicating and engaging with the public.
We don’t take credit (ok, maybe just a little) for these key incorporations of plant-based products and clean meat (referred to as lab grown meat in the quote above) in the AFRI request for proposals. However, it is very encouraging to see this explicit request for plant-based and clean meat research. It indicates that the United States government’s premier agricultural research agency recognizes the potential of these novel production methods to contribute to a healthy, humane, and sustainable food system.
This is an important first step toward increasing funding for research to accelerate plant-based meat’s path to competition and clean meat’s path to commercialization.
Now it’s up to all of you researchers out there to submit your biggest and best plant-based and clean meat research ideas in response to AFRI’s request for proposals.
I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: We can identify no better way to invest public research funds. With the right submissions, AFRI-funded research can lead the world in revolutionizing our global food and agricultural systems through the support of plant-based and clean meat research and development.