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K-State Today

May 11, 2016

Provost named founding member of new higher education commission to address global food security

Submitted by Jennifer Tidball

Kansas State University Provost and Senior Vice President April Mason is playing a key role in a new committee formed by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to ensure global food security.

The new commission — The Challenge of Change: Engaging Public Universities to Feed the World — will draw on the academic, research and leadership capabilities of public research universities to address growing domestic and global food security challenges and ensure universal food security by 2050.

The commission includes leading scholars in the agricultural, biological, physical and social sciences, as well as development experts, public university administrators and former senior government officials. 

"I am honored for the opportunity to collaborate with leaders at public and land-grant universities across the country to address a challenge that affects us all," Mason said. "Through research in animal health, plant science and food safety and security, Kansas State University is already an established world leader in supporting global food systems. As we become a Top 50 public research university by 2025, I look forward to continuing important collaborations with universities and institutions." 

Mason and other members of the commission will identify the research, education and engagement efforts public universities should develop to ensure the three pillars of food security — access, availability and utilization — are met throughout the world. Randy Woodson, chancellor of North Carolina State University, is serving as chair of the commission. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation provided financial support for the commission's work. 

The commission is expected to issue a report in early 2017 with final recommendations for both public research universities on how to align their agenda to meet this challenge and for the new presidential administration on how it can provide federal support of such critical research efforts.

Kansas State University's agricultural heritage, food systems expertise and world-class research facilities firmly establish the university as a leader in addressing the growing technological, educational and human resource needs of the global food system, Mason said. 

The Global Food Systems Initiative is accelerating new research and teaching opportunities for Kansas State University faculty and staff, and adding value to students' overall education experience.

  • The current Biosecurity Research Institute and soon-to-be-built National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility strengthen Kansas State University's ability to conduct research in crop protection, animal health and food safety.
  • Global Food Systems Innovation Grants have provided funding for Kansas State University faculty to conduct new research related to the food system and the world's challenges.
  • In the course of 14 months, Kansas State University was named the winner of four highly competitive grants totaling more than $100 million from the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The grants establish and fund four Feed the Future Innovation Labs that focus on sorghum and millet, applied wheat genomics, reduction of post-harvest loss and sustainable intensification.
  • The Bio-Agro Science and Innovation Corridor, or BASIC, is Kansas State University's newly named epicenter for bio- and agrosecurity research and development to support animal and public health in the U.S. The corridor was established to encourage government, industry and university partnerships to develop bio-agro science solutions. Much of the development of this innovation district is taking place on the north side of the Manhattan campus.