MSU researchers join government and business to outline food security challenges

Posted at 2:21 PM, May 26, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-26 14:21:41-04

Globally, about one in eight people do not have enough food for a healthy, active lifestyle.

That’s one of the problems a commission of researchers and leaders from public universities, government, non-governmental organizations and the private sector outlined in a comprehensive strategy to tackle global food security.

Michigan State University President Lou Anna K. Simon is part of the commission’s executive committee, and several researchers and administrators from MSU participated in work groups that wrote the report.

The effort is known as the Challenge of Change Commission, which the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities convened with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. The commission received input from more than 100 individuals from universities, the public and private sector, and non-governmental organizations as it formulated recommended reforms.

“The report points to and gathers up many facts that we’ve known. The change, hopefully, is that now we can work to make a difference in the lives of people around the world,” said Doug Buhler, assistant vice president of research and graduate studies and director of MSU AgBioResearch. “These challenges of availability, access and food use give us tangible places to make changes that will sustainably provide nutrition for people across the U.S. and the world.”

While many important efforts are being undertaken to address the vast array of problems that comprise food and nutrition insecurity, a truly comprehensive, holistic approach that fully engages arguably the world’s greatest scientific and educational resource in food and nutrition security – public research universities – has not yet fully developed. The Challenge of Change Commission began with the understanding that public research universities – with their broad academic, research and community expertise and experience – were uniquely positioned to address the complex and diverse challenges of food and nutrition insecurity. 

The APLU initiative builds on a vision for engagement in sustainable global prosperity at the critical nexus of food, water and energy expressed by Simon in her 2009 monograph, Embracing the World Grant Ideal: Affirming the Morrill Act for a Twenty-first-century Global Society.

“Challenge of Change affirms MSU’s World Grant direction, while challenging us to accelerate and integrate our work more fully through partnerships at the national and international level,” President Simon said. “Food security isn’t just a technical or scientific challenge. It is one requiring the sustained, collaborative efforts of networked stakeholders and organizations, and multiple disciplines including the social sciences.”

The strategy designed by the commission includes all aspects of our food systems: production, nutrition, health, food safety and loss, economic costs, individual behaviors and incentives – as well as societal factors affecting food availability, access and use. The report lays out an approach for stakeholders in government, business and non-governmental organizations to work together to achieve their shared goal of global food security.

Learn more about the initiative