Stanford University's new program on Food Security and the Environment (FSE) aims to generate innovative solutions to the persistent problems of global hunger and environmental damage from crop, livestock, and fish production practices worldwide. Intensifying food production systems-crop and livestock production on land and fish production through aquaculture in marine and pond environments-is needed to meet population and income-driven demand, yet it must be done in ways that do not significantly damage ecosystems or deplete natural resources. The FSE program will be designed around an interdisciplinary team of scholars and a focused research portfolio, and will provide the educational foundation for graduate and undergraduate students at Stanford interested in issues of hunger, rural development, global resource and environmental degradation, climate impacts on food security, and agriculture and aquaculture technology, trade and policy. The program will also link food and resource issues to international and human security issues more traditionally defined. It will provide direct policy outreach through international development and aid institutions, federal and state agencies overseeing agriculture and aquaculture activities, environmental non-profit organizations, and other groups that play significant roles in the food production and environment arenas.
· To design new approaches to solving global hunger and environmental problems associated with intensive food production systems by creating an interdisciplinary team of scholars within and affiliated with Stanford who collectively have the relevant scientific, economic, and policy expertise.
· To expand course offerings and provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students in the areas of hunger alleviation, sustainable agricultural and aquaculture development, and related fields such as risk assessment, international security, and policy analysis.
· To develop outreach activities with the private sector, national agencies, international organizations, and the NGO community on critical topics of agricultural and aquaculture technology and policy, food security, and environment and climate linkages to food production.
· To establish Stanford as the leader in higher education in these fields.
Productive food systems and their environmental consequences are at the core of the program. Many of these systems are global in character, but they are influenced significantly by differing food objectives and instruments among nations, especially by income level. The program thus seeks to understand the food security issues which are of paramount interest to poor countries, the food diversification challenges that are a focus of middle-income nations, and the food safety and subsidy concerns prominent in richer nations.
Examples of ongoing and potential research topics:
· Mitigating the impacts of climate variability and global warming on food security in Asian rice economies and in mixed farming systems of the Sahel
· Identifying avenues for enhancing the production of "orphan crops" (those crops with little international trade and investment, but with high local value in terms of food and nutrition security) in the world's least developed regions
· Analyzing the relationships between food trade, food aid, food security, and the environment
· Mapping deforestation and ecological change in the Brazilian Amazon arising from soybean production for the growing global livestock sector
· Designing conservation strategies for water use in intensive agricultural regions of China and India
· Assessing the potential effects of bio-fuel development on global food production and the environment
· Understanding food safety and international security linkages
· Re-designing agricultural subsidy policies in wealthy countries to meet environment and development goals
· Creating strategies for sustainable aquaculture production to protect ocean fisheries and marine resources in the U.S. and globally