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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 2 Developing the Vision: Highlights of the Workshop On June 3-4, 2010, a steering committee working under the auspices of the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Board on Life Sciences (BLS) convened the workshop “Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment” in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. All of these entities supported the workshop, which was held on the HHMI campus in Chevy Chase, Maryland. It is evidence of the compelling nature of the New Biology concept, and of the interdependence of the four challenge areas put forth in the New Biology report, that an organization dedicated to biomedical research and education hosted a workshop focused on food, energy, and the environment. In welcoming participants, HHMI President Robert Tjian invited them to consider the HHMI campus as a place to come together to think about applying the New Biology to national, and even global, problems. The steering committee, led by Keith Yamamoto, chair of the NRC Board on Life Sciences, developed an agenda to do just that. (See Appendix A for brief biographies of steering group members.) In two days of breakout and plenary sessions, the workshop participants were asked to identify high-level goals to engage a range of stakeholders, including policy makers, scientific and technical communities, and students. (See Appendix B for the workshop statement of task, agenda, and list of participants.) Describing the promise of the New Biology, Dr. Yamamoto said, “We have reached a point in our research that we have begun to appreci-
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 ate the remarkable complexity of biological processes that we could not have appreciated when studying one gene and one gene product at a time. While that is daunting and scary, it is those same discoveries that have given us a shadowy view of our way through. If we can work our way through, if we succeed and integrate, the knowledge that is discovered can be used to effectively address and solve vexing, urgent, social problems.” INITIAL IDEAS TO SPARK DISCUSSION The workshop steering committee asked each participant to arrive prepared to make a three-minute presentation of a “big idea,” an idea out of reach of a single discipline or a single funding agency but something that, if achieved, would advance two or all three of the challenge areas. Some participants began with straightforward observations. For example, Don Ort noted that crop yields, even in record years, do not reach their theoretical potential. “I’d like to see research to raise record yields toward the theoretical and even to raise the theoretical,” he said. Several speakers took note of how some plants can survive in inhospitable environments, such as semiarid environments, salt water, or places as mundane as a crack in a sidewalk. Understanding how plants grow under highly unfavorable temperature, water, and nutrient conditions could enable development of crop plants that thrive in areas where malnourishment and starvation are acute and contribute to the ability to develop biofuel feedstocks that compete minimally with food crops or impact natural ecosystems. Greg Stephanopoulos also highlighted the importance of algae as feedstocks in the future. Their rapid growth and consequent high productivity make them a potentially unlimited source for biofuel and other purposes, he said, if we can develop the technology to grow and harness them in a viable way. Expanding on this same theme, Richard Flavell proposed closer coordination between synthetic biologists and plant breeders to create new plant forms with desirable traits, such as drought tolerance, and to move this knowledge from scientific journals to production in the field. Presenters also noted that creation of diverse new plants requires that we first do the science to provide a deep and detailed understanding of a single species—something that sounds deceptively simple, yet is anything but. “We need to understand how one plant works in great detail to be generalizable to others,” said Jeffery Dangl. For this reason, a number of speakers decried the declining federal support for basic research on Arabidopsis as a model plant species as “misguided.” To Ann Reid, new knowledge about microbes is essential to understand and be able to exploit their roles in improving plant growth and
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 productivity. Currently, how microbes perceive their surroundings and interact with each other and with plants in the environment around them is mostly unknown. She and other presenters said that deeper understanding of microbes, their functions, and their interactions is essential to meet the goals set out in the New Biology report. Charles Rice went further and suggested that understanding and manipulating plant-associated microorganisms could make plants “self-fertilizing” and thereby reduce the need for nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, which are a major component of fossil fuel inputs in crop production (Box 2-1). Some presenters carried the theme of exploiting complexity over to the ecosystem level. Rebecca Nelson, for example, noted that although current agricultural systems are productive, they depend on intensive fossil fuel inputs, which produce unwanted environmental problems. She suggested that optimizing complex plant-soil-microbe interactions would be a superior approach for managing agroecosystems. “Build agriculture based on optimized complexity, rather than optimized simplicity,” she urged. This would have to happen over time and would need to rely on the practical observations and experiences of farmers with first-hand insights into crop growth as well as the scientists who study these complex systems. Such examples illustrate some of the ideas in these short presenta- BOX 2-1 Fossil Energy Inputs in the Current U.S. Food Production System According to Pimentel et al. (2008), production, transportation, and preparation of the U.S. food supply are driven almost entirely by nonrenewable energy sources. In total, about 19 percent of total energy use in the United States is accounted for by the production, processing and packaging, transportation, and preparation of food. In the production of corn, one of the major U.S. crops, fossil fuel energy is consumed in eight major input categories (in decreasing order of importance): nitrogen fertilizers; irrigation; gas and diesel fuel; machinery (including energy costs of manufacturing); drying of harvested crop; seed production; phosphorus fertilizers; and herbicides. A 2010 NRC (NRC, 2010b) report noted that although the estimated value of U.S. farm income increased by 31 percent since 1970, the aggregate value of net income to farmers has not changed much in the last 40 years. In 2008, U.S. farms sold $324 billion in agricultural products but incurred $291 billion in production expenses, including $204 billion for purchased inputs. Much of the recent increase in purchased input costs was related to the rising costs of fuel and synthetic fertilizer, given that crude oil rose from $12 per barrel in 1998 to $95 per barrel in 2008. In 2007, only 47 percent of all U.S. farms reported positive net income, down from 57 percent in 1987.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 tions, which addressed systems at all scales from microbes to whole ecosystems. They touched on issues that are complex, highly useful to humans, yet currently unsolvable, and laid the groundwork to think through big goals and the research needed to reach these goals. IDENTIFYING A HIGH-LEVEL GOAL The steering committee assigned participants to three breakout groups to ensure that each included a diversity of expertise. These diverse groups independently converged on a single problem focus: how New Biology can lead to new methods of agricultural and biomass production that, in turn, can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere and achieve carbon-neutral food and biofuel. Breakout Highlights Each group came to this common focus from a different, but complementary, perspective. Group 1, for example, discussed the spillover benefits that will accrue through finding new ways to produce food and biofuels. As Julie Theriot, the spokesperson for Group 1, said, “One dollar invested in agriculture is one dollar invested in health, food, energy, and environment, as investments in agriculture are leveraged across these multiple areas.” Christopher Somerville, representing Group 2, said the “banner goal” of seeking to achieve carbon-neutral food and fuel requires deeper understanding of three broad areas: How plants operate. It is commonly observed that some plants have record yields in certain years; a mechanistic understanding of this phenomenon could be used so that plants function at optimal efficiency more consistently. How microbes function. Microbes pose many unknowns, yet they are “the endless, limitless, renewable resource” that could be tapped to help achieve carbon neutrality, for example, through reduced pesticide usage. How to optimize biocomplexity for more efficient, environmentally benign agriculture. This includes, for example, recognizing the role of microbial and insect communities in sustaining plant and animal health and determining how to plant mixed crops to minimize fertilizer and water requirements and maximize pest and disease resistance. Sean Eddy, reporting on behalf of Group 3, said the funding gap in basic plant research means that strengthening a broad knowledge base is a pre-
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 requisite to achieving carbon neutrality. However, a basic-research goal in itself is “not good enough to attract the motivation, mindshare, and attention” of stakeholders; rather, basic research must relate to societal needs. The group discussed a “Plan A” and a “Plan B”: Plan A to achieve a carbon-neutral environment; if not, Plan B to learn how to adapt to a non-carbon-neutral environment and to accelerate the time scale of that adaptation. TRANSFORMATIVE IMPLICATIONS Discussion ensued about whether the public would embrace the goal of carbon neutrality as being as clear as “landing a man on the moon.” Various participants affirmed that the advances implicit in this goal would, indeed, require transformative discoveries to produce new knowledge. The significance of and need for these advances, as well as the consequences of not tackling them, would have to be explained to the public. The world needs answers. We are heading toward a “perfect storm,” asserted Steven Kay, in which population growth, climate change, and diminishing oil supplies will collide. He called for “HOLI”—high-output, low-input—agriculture. While previous flagship reports have touched on many of the issues under discussion, what is different here is the opportunity to mobilize the information in pursuit of a goal that “raises [goose] bumps on your arms.” Carbon neutrality and other environment-related goals have a human dimension. “We need to construct a nutritious and culturally acceptable diet that 9 billion people can consume and that advances their health, and produce it in ways that are sparing of the environment, “said Jeffrey Gordon. “All sorts of complexities are involved in solving a problem like that.” Integration of disparate systems represents a huge departure from business as usual. The many different areas discussed in the breakout and plenary sessions represent state-of-the-art research in their own right, but what is remarkably different from business as usual is integrating all those novel systems, said Dr. Flavell. “We shouldn’t fall into the trap of forgetting the progressive challenges that need to be invented—and forget the enormous challenge and excitement of integration,” he said. Carbon-neutral agriculture could, in theory, occur today—but not in reality, because doing so would not meet current food demand, said Martha Schlicher. Providing carbon-neutral food while also substantially increasing food production, as population growth estimates dictate, fur-
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 ther compounds the challenge—but also provides even more urgency to address it. DRILLING DOWN Subsequent breakout sessions discussed priorities and further described the activities necessary to achieve carbon neutrality. Research for Improved Outcomes Dr. Theriot’s Group 1 discussed what it termed “agro-ecosystems engineering” to achieve carbon-neutral food and lower-carbon energy sources in less than two decades. Envisioned outcomes include higher-yielding crops and cropping systems, as well as integrated land use, improved natural resource utilization and stewardship, better nutrition and health, and understanding of the interconnections between food and energy sources. Achieving these outcomes will require that research be performed and integrated as a continual feedback loop, encompassing Observational research of the characteristics of existing systems, including phenotypic (remote and in situ sensing, physical architecture) and genotypic analysis; Experimental work, including advanced crop breeding, synthetic biology, and molecular techniques; A database that integrates the observational and experimental work and helps develop iterative hypotheses that can be tested in experiments and confirmed by observations of systems—a database to handle and organize such voluminous data implies that advances in data gathering and bioinformatics infrastructure are necessary; and The development of social policy goals: engagement of stakeholders, especially farmers doing the agricultural work, as well as legal, ethical, and educational implications. Breakout Group 2 discussed similar themes related to outcomes and research. A critical first step, as reported by Dr. Somerville and described later in this summary, is to determine how to measure carbon flow comprehensively and to quantify carbon flux in agriculture. Also stressed was the recognition that carbon-neutral agriculture goes far beyond plants to involve animals and bioenergy. Group 2 also made the point that the measurement of carbon fluxes is a classic example of a goal that requires interagency coordination, because many agencies (DOE, USDA, etc.) are involved in ecosystem and greenhouse gas monitoring and a major goal
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 of a New Biology initiative would be to ensure coordination of these efforts. Carbon from the Air, Not the Ground In summarizing the highlights of Group 3, Dr. Eddy said that members found the goal “to get carbon from the air rather than from the ground” a compelling concept of what New Biology can do, particularly in terms of advances in synthetic biology and engineering. These techniques have emerged as part of an evolving field, but he said there seems to be an inflection point in studying and applying them, as well as great enthusiasm among the new generation of students. This group, he said, crafted a statement that captures the intent to build a science and technology base to solve a range of problems: engineering plant performance for a changing environment to better serve a bio-based economy. He singled out key terms in the statement: (1) engineering: this is an applied science; (2) changing environment: climate change will require new plants that are adaptable to new realities; and (3) bio-based economy: getting carbon from the air, not from the ground, and moving away from fossil fuels toward using biomass for energy and materials. ENGAGING SCIENTISTS: FIVE BROAD DELIVERABLES Ultimately, workshop participants identified five broad deliverables that together could move food and bioenergy production toward carbon neutrality, as well as examples of activities and potential organizational structures to accomplish them. The groups suggested important paths for exploration, leaving it to the imagination and creativity of the scientific community to identify the enabling technologies and detailed approaches. Figure 2-1 illustrates the connections among the pieces discussed throughout the workshop: An overarching challenge to use the New Biology to produce carbon-neutral food and fuel; Engagement of diverse stakeholders, each with different perspectives and priorities; and For the scientific and technical community, suggestions of the kinds of interdisciplinary, pioneering research to achieve this overall challenge.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 FIGURE 2-1 Components identified by workshop participants to achieve carbon-neutral food and biofuel.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 Measuring Carbon Flows To achieve carbon neutrality, we must determine quantitatively how carbon enters the atmosphere and how it is stored and released, said Dr. Somerville. This understanding is essential for rational design of strategies with the greatest impact and for effective monitoring. Such a “life-cycle analysis” (LCA) would require a multidisciplinary research effort that includes the following: Defining what carbon flux related to agriculture really entails Conducting a life-cycle analysis of agriculture Integrating data in a central point, fed by collaborators in different ecosystems Developing science-based rule-making and policy based on the findings According to Somerville, this type of research suggests the need for a center, perhaps in a hub-and-spoke configuration with assignable responsibilities and accountability against the goals. The DOE, at Argonne National Laboratory, is now taking on a piece of this large project. Optimizing Plant Productivity Dr. Ort suggested that New Biology integration of expertise is required to Increase photosynthetic efficiency by 50 percent; Reduce damage from plant disease, which could increase yield by 30 percent and also save water; Double nitrogen use efficiency and increase the number of nitrogen-fixing crops; Double water use efficiency; Improve nutrient acquisition through novel microbial associations; Optimize CO2 response in plants and increase plant tolerance to changing precipitation patterns, extremes in growing conditions, and tropospheric ozone; Decrease the time required for plants to mature so they can be productive in shorter growing seasons; Develop new perennial crop and biofuel plants, introduce perenniality into annual plants, and develop multiple cropping capabilities; Reduce loss to insects by 50 percent; and Maximize productivity in each individual plant, each year.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 Group participants discussed three organizational models that might be considered to accomplish this work: a terragrid (deployed centers across the country that are available to grow and test crops, making the technology accessible to researchers at smaller and nontraditional institutions); centers (both program-project and hub and spoke); and small investigator teams that include people from different disciplines. DOE and the National Science Foundation (NSF) may be most involved in basic discovery, with USDA involvement down the line for implementation. Improving Animal Health and Waste Management Workshop participants recognized that the production of meat from ruminants is the single largest use of land as well as a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The development of improved systems for producing animal protein was, therefore, seen as an important objective; improved animal health and waste management were seen as having the potential to increase efficiency and reduce pollution from animal agriculture. Workshop participants suggested research activities in the following areas: Developing livestock and husbandry procedures that do not employ antibiotic therapy Developing feedstocks that are digested more efficiently Improving energy partitioning between feed and the host—potential approaches include manipulation of microbiota by pre- or probiotics, genetic engineering of metabolic traits in microbial communities, genetic manipulation of animals and exploitation of wild alleles for energy utilization, and plant manipulations to optimize feedstocks Increasing energy conversion in food source animals—domesticate high-energy conversion efficiency animals for food sources Minimizing animal efflux or using it for energy Improving containment of microbes, such as enteropathogens, to keep them out of the food and water supply—develop sensitive biosentinels to ensure that standards are met Microbes will play an essential role in improved animal husbandry and waste management. For example, ruminant microbiota within the cow gut break down cellulosic material, which could be more thoroughly explored for wider application. Participants suggested that the New Biology can help us understand how to maximize nutrient flow, creating a cow that is healthier for the human diet and changing the microbial ecology of the cow (and perhaps other animals) to optimize partition-
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 ing of energy from fuel to host and of meat production for human food; understand and perhaps exploit the end products of fermentation in the cow rumen; and understand the nutritional and other consequences of altering gut microbial ecosystems. Workshop participants suggested that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture could serve as the lead agency in this work, but other agencies that are highly relevant include the Food and Drug Administration (FDA; for antibiotic issues), the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (nutrition and microbiome), DOE (energy capture and methane utilization), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (enteropatho-gens and other microbes dangerous to human health). New Feedstocks for Biofuel in New Environments Developing feedstocks that prosper in diverse, local environments could allow the United States to be self-sufficient in liquid fuels, said Steven Long. Although estimates differ widely, Dr. Long said that as much as 200 million hectares of abandoned agricultural land may be available in the United States. This land, such as overgrazed pastureland in the South-west, often has road access or some infrastructure in place. He said that a critical precursor is a coherent database of such areas, along with their biodiversity, ecosystem services provided, soils, and climate now and over the next 30 years. Some of the information exists but is scattered; other data need to be collected. Potential new feedstocks encompass two broad classes of crops: (1) emergent crops that have already been used in some form and (2) potential crops that have not been tested to any level. Emergent crops: Expand exploration of Saccharinae (sugar cane, energy cane, miscanes, Miscanthus, sorghums) and Pennisetum and switchgrass for further testing and to build up national germplasm collections. Workshop participants suggested the following research on crops to advance their emergence as new biofuel feedstock: Identification of potential pests and diseases, eliminating plant strains that are highly vulnerable to catastrophic diseases, or developing management options or disease resistance; Stimulation of regionally appropriate public sector breeding or propagation systems that reduce risk for the private sector at the initial stages;
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 Genome sequencing and development of molecular marker technologies, selection criteria, and rapid phenotyping, using high-throughput technologies; Developing strategies to exploit management and biotechnology of nitrogen fixer-mycorrhizal associations; Developing effective genetic transformation technologies for these emergent crops; Developing algorithms to derive mechanistic models to predict yield maps in the absence of historical datasets; Creating a network of GHG balance measurements for emerging feedstocks; and Developing predictive engineering and systems analyses, as well as life-cycle and economic analyses. Potential feedstocks: Develop Agave and Opuntia for semiarid environments and mangrove and cordgrass for saline environments. Understanding and Exploiting Complex Biological Systems Throughout the workshop, participants observed that current agricultural systems are based on optimizing simplicity—for example, through monoculture. In contrast, taking advantage of the complexity characterizing natural biological systems, from microbes through ecosystems, could increase productivity and sustainability. Dr. Nelson listed criteria to determine whether qualitative and quantitative productivity is maintained or increased through optimizing complexity, such as efficiency of resource use, resilience and stability with regard to climate and pest and disease challenges, and reduction in externalities (i.e., forms of pollution). In addition to many components included in previous deliverables, participants suggested research activities in the following areas: Functional diversity, to manage pests and diseases, improve water and nutrient use, and overall to better manage risk over time; Optimized biocomplexity—companion planting to increase productivity, disease and pest resistance, and the ability to plant mixed fields with the optimal plant in each microenvironment; Chemical ecology, to learn how plant biochemistry can be used to help crops compete more effectively with weeds and optimize beneficial interactions with insects; and Advanced phenotyping at the component and systems levels, remotely and in situ.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 Dr. Nelson pointed out that organizationally, the work is inherently distributed because each system is so particular, although data handling, modeling, and remote sensing could be centralized. Individual and small groups would use the data, and individual farmers can also be involved. She suggested that USDA could be the lead agency for this research, backed up by DOE and NSF. ENGAGING THE NEXT GENERATION: EDUCATION FOR THE NEW BIOLOGIST The New Biology will require the talents of appropriately educated New Biologists, prepared to train others to pursue challenges described throughout the workshop. Broadening Education Offerings The New Biologist, said Gary Stacey in his report on breakout group discussions, will be conversant in math and computational science and able to interact effectively with a broad pool of collaborators—chemists, physicists, engineers, computer scientists, and many others—people challenged and inspired to solve New Biology-related problems from their different perspectives and types of expertise. Workshop participants reiterated the importance of supporting the kinds of changes in education practices that were outlined in the New Biology report. Existing programs, such as those sponsored by HHMI and NSF’s IGERT program1 could be used as models for incorporating educational goals into the program to achieve carbon neutrality. Increased support could be used to fund pilot projects around the country in which universities work with local K-12 school districts, especially students in grades 4-6, where their early interest in science is often either fixed or lost. Universities could also work within their colleges of education to reach K-12 educators who then reach their students. Workshop participants referred to the work of Dr. Jo Handelsman for valuable input about programs. The key is sustained commitment that has measurable impact on what students and teachers learn beyond the occasional short course or institute. Strengthening the Bioinformatics Infrastructure Many of the participants expressed the conviction that a coordinated approach to information, bioinformatics, analysis, and data sharing is 1 Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship. See http://www.nsf.gov/crssprgm/igert/intro.jsp and http://www.igert.org/ for more information.
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 critical to reaching the carbon neutrality goal. Bioinformatics is a critical enabling technology, said Dr. Eddy on behalf of his breakout group, and he called for comprehensive and robust programs and databases to address a variety of needs beyond gene sequence information. New Biologists can be educated to use bioinformatics themselves, rather than rely on separate informatics experts for assistance. As an analogy, molecular cloning was a separate discipline in the 1970s but is now a procedure that all biologists use as needed. Similarly, biologists should be able to program with simple computer languages, at least for their needs to design experiments and analyze data, without having to become software or hardware experts. Eddy pointed out that it is important to avoid overdesigning systems, especially in rapidly advancing areas, so that they try to accomplish too much and therefore are not good for anything in particular. Avoid “building superhighways before we know where the traffic is going,” he urged. Instead, employ simpler systems, at least initially, not necessarily integrated out of the box but “integrate-able.” Eddy suggested that computer simulations, carefully done, can contribute critical advances across the range of investigations considered in this summary; this kind of problem-based learning could entice computer and other technical people to be drawn to biological issues. ENGAGING THE PUBLIC AND POLICY MAKERS: DIAGNOSES AND CURES Achieving carbon neutrality calls for involvement by many stakeholders, not only in science and education, but also those who make funding decisions, develop policy, and give or withdraw public support through advocacy and voting. These stakeholders would respond to a properly enunciated “diagnosis” of the problems and to potential “cures” that the New Biology could contribute, according to Dr. Theriot, reporting from the breakout session. Dr. Theriot pointed out that “diagnoses” include documented information about current and future food and resource shortfalls, as well as projections about U.S. economic and agricultural performance (Box 2-2). In contrast, “cures” will involve challenging technological and conceptual advances, integration across fields, and partnerships with industry: Doubling food and bioenergy production; Transforming what we eat and how it is produced; Developing socially acceptable, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable solutions;
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Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment - Summary of a Workshop June 3-4, 2010 Producing biomass for fuel without competing with food production; and Building a bio-economy through development of a sustainable biofuel and green chemical industry, new bioproduction systems, new materials, and development of biogas. BOX 2-2 Diagnosis: Why the Urgency? These data were presented during the Group 1 breakout session in slides from David Rice, Kansas State University: Worldwide, 854 million people are chronically malnourished, 2 billion people suffer from hidden hunger, and one-half of childhood deaths are attributable to malnutrition. Increased population (9 billion globally) and changes in lifestyles will require that food production substantially (e.g., by 50 percent or more) increases by 2050. Production systems will become increasingly dependent on inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, and water, under current trends. In 50 years, an 18 percent increase in agricultural land area will result in a significant loss of land area for natural ecosystems with attendant impacts on biodiversity. The United States spends $750 million every day to import fuel. Current policies create artificial competition between food and energy. U.S. preeminence in agriculture is based on an unsustainable model. Conversely, advances in food and bioenergy production that are socially acceptable, economically viable, and environmentally sustainable can be within reach through integration across fields of science and technology.
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