CSU Ag Dean News 6-14-10
June 14, 2010
The world population will increase from 6 billion to more than 9 billion by 2050, based on USDA data.
In order to feed that growing population, global food production must increase by 70 percent. This increase will need to occur with less land, water, and fewer resources than are currently available, and cannot be accomplished with current technology. It is critical that bright minds be recruited to develop solutions to feed this expanding global population.
The trend towards a more urban society has created a disconnect between the general public and the system of food production, distribution and availability. Our society has taken for granted the quantity and quality of food currently available. In their mind, there is no need to worry about the future of our food security; they simply go to the store.
There also seems to be a lack of appreciation for the need to develop young minds to sustain a safe and secure global food system. Young men and women are encouraged to seek career opportunities in disciplines other than agriculture and related sciences. The public perception of the agriculture industry reflects that of the early 20th century – agriculture is an industry that does not require a highly educated workforce.
However, this is not the case.
Agriculture is a very complex and integrated system that requires preparation and understanding in the fundamental sciences such as biology, chemistry, and mathematics, as well as the behavioral and social sciences. Application of these diverse sciences to our food system both domestically and internationally is a prerequisite to ensuring a profitable, safe and secure food system. Agriculture employs cutting edge technologies to develop new approaches to increase yields, contribute to aesthetic enhancement, and protect our environment.
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The complexity of our industry requires talent from traditional and non-traditional disciplines to collaborate and ensure that our agriculture and green industries are profitable, sustainable, and socially acceptable.
The College of Agricultural Sciences at Colorado State University is actively involved in developing and facilitating a series of programs designed to educate the general population about the fundamental importance of agriculture to the well-being of society. Through the development of relevant on-campus educational programs, we are striving to open the minds of our students to the challenging and rewarding careers of agriculture.
One example is the Center for Meat Safety and Quality where scientists are working to develop quick and reliable diagnostic tests for food-borne pathogens, thus decreasing the time required to identify the cause of contamination so the source of the contamination can be controlled.
Another example is our Crops for Health Program that examines the relationship between specific natural compounds in food products and the control of chronic diseases in humans, such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
Some of our other college programs target environmental issues, water quality and conservation, land use, agri-urban landscapes, the use of satellite imagery for crop production, invasive species control, and organic food production. It is the integration and application of science and technology that will represent the agricultural system for the 21st century and ultimately produce the food for tomorrow.
Off-campus educational programs are also being developed with help from numerous agriculture related groups throughout the state to educate and expose young people to the myriad of career opportunities in agriculture and to inform the public about the complexity of our food system. These new programs will hopefully create a grassroots-based coalition encompassing university, community college, Extension, and industry partners to promote K-16 and adult education and an understanding of the food system.
The stakes are high. We don’t have much time to prepare the next generation of scientists that will ensure the stability of our food system and our green industry. At CSU, we are ready to take on this challenge, and we look forward to working with the citizens of Colorado to encourage young minds to consider agriculture as an area of study and a career option.