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AMI Foundation Emphasizes Importance of Funding for Agricultural Research in Comments to the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology

Friday, March 9, 2012

(American Meat Institute)

AMI Foundation President Jim Hodges stressed the importance of properly funding agriculture research during comments delivered today before the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

“As a funding organization, the Foundation understands the challenges that face funding groups and the researchers seeking support,” Hodges stated during the public meeting. “ The monies available for research are shrinking and never more so in the area of agricultural research. … Education programs for ranchers, farmers, meat processors, workers, and even the consumer give the entire food chain the tools they need to produce and ultimately consume the safest food product possible. This type of research rarely garners attention grabbing media headlines yet it is integral to ensuring safe foods. It is timely, expensive and easily cut by universities and legislators," Hodges sated.

Hodges noted that since 1999, the AMIF research program has directly sponsored nearly 100 food safety research projects at leading universities and research labs. Those projects have helped develop new technologies to reduce microbial hazards, improve the safety of retail delis, gain a better understanding of the taxonomy of microorganisms to select or create intervention antimicrobials, and maintain the highest level of employee training through continued education programs.

Hodges said data suggest that AMIF research and education efforts have contributed to the food safety progress reflected in government data. Pathogenic bacteria on fresh and ready-to-eat products are down dramatically and so, too, are foodborne illnesses caused by pathogens associated with some meat and poultry products.

“We have demonstrated that this approach to research is a wise investment and believe it is a formula to create real change and real progress,” Hodges said. “The critical need for more agricultural research, particularly food safety research has been reiterated by the Foundation staff to the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Food Safety and Inspection Service; Congress; and now to you; the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.”

“The creation of the President’s Food Safety Working Group demonstrate this administration’s commitment to the safety of our food supply. But we will be unable to build on our progress and make our food supply even safer without additional funding for agricultural research. It is absolutely critical to have science-based research that will help meet the challenges that lay ahead in the future for the health of Americans,” Hodges concluded.

To view the comments in their entirety, go to www.meatinstitute.org/ht/a/GetDocumentAction/i/76194.

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