Following years of stagnant public funding, Food Science research faces mounting and urgent challenges. During this time, private funding increased, but it has not been a direct substitute due to shorter-term focus. Our food system faces generational disruption and complexity driven by socio-economic, environmental, and market forces. AgriFood and the environment are inextricably linked with production and supply of food for a growing global population.
Historically, both publicly and privately funded research has produced tremendous benefits throughout the food system, from agricultural production to food manufacturing, retail and food service, and consumption at home and away from home. AgriFood plays an invaluable role in the economy and public health, with Food ahead of Agriculture in terms of GDP contribution, employment, and exports. To continue to create value and maintain global competitiveness, advancements in food science and technology and pursuit of innovation are critical. Investment in Food research will not only help to ensure a secure food supply but also reduce foodborne disease outbreaks and assist with efforts to protect the environment and national security. However, public investment in AgriFood research, and particularly Food, is critically low during a time of mounting challenges and does not reflect the sector’s contribution to the economy and long-term competitiveness. It is vital to economic, national, and societal interests that the global food system ensures safe, nutritious, affordable, accessible, and environmentally sustainable food supply for the growing population, health, and the environment. Substantial and sustained increase in research investment behind AgriFood, and most importantly Food, are urgent to address these complex challenges at national and global levels.
This white paper explains the disproportion of funding for Food research relative to its economic contribution as well as the rationale for funding increase.
A Call to Action
Policymakers must recognize and address the significant risk associated with chronically underfunded research in Food. This is a call to action for a paradigm shift to drive innovation and value creation, feed the talent pipeline, and maintain global competitiveness.