Growing populations, decreasing natural resources and increasing environmental challenges present us with opportunities to find the most efficient and healthful ways to provide food for all, both domestically and globally. Our faculty and students work at levels ranging from the molecular to the industrial to develop best practices for growing, processing and distributing food that is safe, high in quality and abundant.
Air quality and the sustainable use of land and water resources — as well as the impact of trade practices and governmental policies — are areas of active research and teaching by our faculty. In addition to improving our own food supply, our faculty and students are helping other nations become more food secure, which in turn can prevent conflict around the globe.
The world’s interconnected society and commerce make getting a global education critical to today’s graduates as they help to meet the food needs in other countries by knowing their customs as well as their production constraints. Study abroad programs offer important opportunities for our students to gain that understanding.
What is Feeding Our World?
Breeding and Genetics of Plants and Animals
Genetic advancements in plant and food animal production have made significant contributions historically to the food and fiber supply chain through increased productivity. Enhanced disease resistance and environmental tolerance have boosted productivity and the need exists to continue development of plants and animals adaptable to environmental change. The increasing global population and demand for food have intensified genomic research efforts to identify further improvements in productivity/yield, quality and efficiency while minimizing environmental impact.
Technology and Food Safety
Improvements in technology have resulted in increased food production to meet global demand. Post-harvest machinery and production techniques have evolved to address food safety concerns, yet one third of food loss today occurs post-harvest. Agricultural advancements in post-harvest technology are sometimes met with apprehension by consumers resulting in need for educational programs to address such concerns.
Resource Management of Water and Land
Water availability and drought dominate rural and urban concerns in Texas. The College of Agriculture and Life Sciences must provide educational, scientific, and scholarly framework for the understanding, development, management and use of natural resources to benefit human and natural societies. Sustainable growth is the objective to maximize the use of limited resources through precise methods in a manner that is considered sustainable. The recognition and importance of biofuels to decarbonize the energy sector through minimizing carbon dioxide emissions and ultimately reduce carbon footprint by mitigating climate change is one of the College’s research strengths.
Development of Nutritious Foods/Feeds and Education
The College will serve a leadership role in discovery and distribution of new knowledge in nutrition and food science to promote public health and well-being. Educational outreach to nutritionally at risk populations in Texas and beyond is necessary to promote healthy lifestyles and prevention of diet-related diseases. Development of new foods or food products or new varieties of existing crops to provide nutritional, high quality foods will continue to be prioritized. Discovery of dietary mechanisms and factors impacting obesity, cardiovascular disease, carcinogenesis, diabetes, and other chronic diseases will also be addressed.
The College has a strong presence around the world impacting global food production. The Borlaug Institute, which helps small-scale farmers around the globe to prosper through improved crop varieties, animal genetics, product handling, transport, food safety, nutrition and food policy marketing, serves as a hub for international activities. The mission revolves around helping countries to produce their own food in a sustainable manner to decrease dependence on imports. International outreach and consulting opportunities exist for faculty involvement.