AMIF Voices Concerns Over Changes to AFRI During Stakeholders MeetingWednesday, June 2, 2010
(American Meat Institute)
AMI Foundation Director of Scientific Affairs Betsy Booren, Ph.D., reiterated today that food safety is the meat and poultry industry's top priority and USDA research funding should reflect that priority.
Booren participated in a stakeholder meeting hosted by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) held to gather comments on how the agency should develop requests for funding for its 2011 Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). AFRI is the flagship competitive research grant program by NIFA, which was established by the 2008 Farm Bill.
Booren said the AMI Foundation (AMIF or the Foundation) strongly supports the funding of extension education programs to solve food safety problems throughout the entire food chain, but the removal of food science and other agricultural disciplines from the AFRI program compromises food safety challenges facing the industry.
“Research on food processing technologies, food ingredients, animal production and other critical multi-disciplinary areas in the food sciences is needed to solve the problems facing today’s agricultural community. These multi-disciplinary areas are integral to food safety research,” Booren stated.
Booren said the exclusion of food sciences-related research may also create a shortage of trained food scientists. “The Foundation strongly encourages NIFA and the AFRI program to reexamine the data used to determine funding priority areas that will reduce the public health risk of consuming certain foods,” Booren stated. “The AFRI program should target these areas, the areas of greatest societal impact, for the development of future RFAs.”
Booren said the Foundation would also like to see increased focus on basic research and believes that having the fundamental understanding of biological, physical, microbial and chemical properties will only improve our ability to find solutions to the problems facing the agriculture and food industries.
In closing, Booren noted that it has been the experience of the Foundation that solutions to food safety problems have often been found when it is not the primary objective of the research. Allowing scientists to have the freedom and rise to the challenge to develop new and creative solutions to food safety problems has led to successful innovation. By not being strictly prescriptive, the Foundation has discovered ideas and research that never would be evaluated for funding under a traditional review program.
“The AMI Foundation encourages NIFA to allow for investigator-initiated research ideas to be considered, if not funded. As this country’s public funding organization for food and agriculture it is your responsibility, not to be a roadblock to discovery, but be an organization that fosters it,” Booren concluded.
To view Booren’s comments in their
entirety, click here:
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