The awards were made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), the nation’s premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences, and will affect 11 agricultural research universities looking into ways nanotechnology can be used to improve food safety, enhance renewable fuels, increase crop yields, and manage agricultural pests.
“In the seven years since the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative was established, the program has led to true innovations and ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety. Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology are key pieces of our investment in innovation to ensure an adequate and safe food supply for a growing global population,” said Vilsack. “The President’s 2017 Budget calls for full funding of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative so that USDA can continue to support important projects like these.”
Universities receiving funding include Auburn University, which has proposed to use their funding to improve pathogen monitoring throughout the food supply chain by creating a user-friendly system that can detect multiple food-borne pathogens simultaneously, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, whose experts will work to develop nanoparticle-based poultry vaccines to prevent emerging poultry infections.