A compelling case for heightened cooperation across the grain-chain to lobby for agricultural research was offered in a recent presentation to the North American Millers’ Association by Roger N. Beachy, president emeritus of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.
Beyond the need to close the productivity gap and feed a rapidly growing planet, Dr. Beachy pointed out how more research spending would help rapidly solve some stubborn problems such as Fusarium head blight.
Most telling, and applicable to baking, though, was Dr. Beachy’s description of the poor state of appreciation for the importance of this research. Noting that federal spending on agricultural research totals about $2 billion per year, he noted that federal biomedical research funding for the National Institutes of Health next year will increase by nearly that amount — up $1.7 billion to about $34 billion.
He suggested the biomedical community has lobbying figured out with massive outreach from doctors, health care workers, scientists and consumer groups. A similar cooperative effort is needed for agricultural research, and cooperation across the wheat chain in recent years would suggest that a more intensive effort may be possible and should be pursued.