The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has announced more than $3.8 million in funding to support grants focused on using nanotechnology to find solutions to societal challenges such as food security, nutrition, food safety, and environmental protection. The awards were made through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), which is authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology embrace opportunities in a broad range of critical challenges facing agriculture and food systems,” says NIFA director, Sonny Ramaswamy. “Advances in nanotechnology help secure a healthy food supply by enabling cost-effective methods for the early detection of insects, diseases, and other contaminants; improve plant and animal breeding; and create high value-added products of nano-biomaterials for food and non-food applications.”
Past projects include a Cornell University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute venture that led to the development of a new nanotechnology that could keep bacteria from sticking to medical equipment and food processing machinery. A project from Harvard School of Public Health is investigating the effectiveness of a chemical-free, nanotechnology-based method for the inactivation of pathogenic and spoilage microorganisms on the surface of fruits and vegetables.
Fiscal year 2014 projects include:
The University of Georgia, Athens, Ga., $496,192
University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa., $496,180
University of Kentucky Research Foundation, Lexington, Ky., $450,000
University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Mass., $444,200
North Dakota State University, Fargo, N.D., $149,714
Rutgers University, New Brunswick. N.J., $450,000
Pennsylvania State University, University Park, University Park, Pa., $447,788
West Virginia University, Morgantown, W. Va., $496,168
University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wis., $450,100
The purpose of AFRI is to support research, education, and extension work by awarding grants that address key problems of national, regional, and multi-state importance in sustaining all components of food and agriculture. AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill and supports work in six priority areas: 1) plant health and production and plant products; 2) animal health and production and animal products; 3) food safety, nutrition and health; 4) bioenergy, natural resources, and environment; 5) agriculture systems and technology; and 6) agriculture economics and rural communities.
The Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years, while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers. Since enactment, USDA has made significant progress to implement each provision of this critical legislation, including providing disaster relief to farmers and ranchers; strengthening risk management tools; expanding access to rural credit; funding critical research; establishing innovative public-private conservation partnerships; developing new markets for rural-made products; and investing in infrastructure, housing and community facilities to help improve quality of life in rural America.
Release Date: April 27, 2015