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ARS Home » Nutrition, Food Safety/Quality » Research » Research Project #434525

Research Project: Responsive Agriculture and Food Systems to Promote Health and Quality of Life across the Life Span

Location: Nutrition, Food Safety/Quality

Project Number: 0204-41510-001-83-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2018
End Date: Jul 31, 2023

Objective:
Develop a proof-of-concept that will define and refine the critical intersection among responsive agriculture, quality food production, and human nutrition and health. We hypothesize that advancements in the food and agriculture system will improve diets and health outcomes in humans, reduce diet-related health care costs, limit the environmental impact of the food and agriculture system, and reduce food waste while increasing food production to levels needed to nourish the estimated 9 billion people on earth by 2050.

Approach:
New and expanding expectations of the agriculture and the food supply system include promoting healthy diets across the life span, and lowering rates of diet-related chronic disease and health care costs. Agriculture remains an unrealized opportunity to substantially reduce diet-related chronic diseases, which costs the US economy $1 trillion annually , with 50% of US adults being treated for a chronic disease. Collecting the evidence-base that connects nutrient intakes to health promotion and chronic disease prevention across the lifespan is a major gap to setting future nutrient-based and food-based requirements. This research will develop a proof-of-concept for developing such connections. Chronic diseases emerge through interactions among many nutrients and physiological pathways, one must consider systems/networks over pathways, and establish system readouts as biomarkers of health (integrative biomarkers), to understand how nutrition modifies biomarkers of aging and markers of age-related physiological system decay. Collecting the evidence-base that connects nutrient intakes to health promotion and chronic disease prevention across the lifespan is a major gap to setting future nutrient-based and food-based requirements. This research will develop a proof-of-concept for developing such connections. Considering these new expectations of the food system and agriculture and needing to achieve scientifically-sound dietary policies and recommendations, research will focus on developing a proof of concept involving the following 3 emphasis areas: 1. Responsive/Superior Agriculture – highlighting the need to develop new technologies (e.g. crisper), methods, and applications that are readily translated into commercial products that are responsive to societal needs, consumer demands and waste reduction. 2. Precision Nutrition & Agriculture – new technologies that assess and provide needed inputs (nutrients, antibiotics, pesticides) at the point of care responsive to the unique needs of an individual plant/animal that directly or indirectly enters the human food supply to maximize plant and animal health, conserving limited resources, and minimizing environmental burden. 3. Food System Program and Policy Evaluation Initiative – Creating the evidence-based system to support decisions related to dietary guidance and agriculture/food system policies that ensure integrated human, environmental, social and economic health will require Identification and development of new measures and data sets, as well as requiring big data integration methodologies. Implementation of these three integrated emphasis areas will establish a model or proof-of-concept for national agriculture production that supports healthy agricultural economies, healthy environments, and healthy people. It also will provide a global model for sustainable agriculture and health care that addresses anticipated population growth and associated nutritional needs in the decades to come. The Cooperator brings a unique set of expertise in all three emphasis areas and a keen sense of the need to integrate and focus them on this important issue.