EO Bioeconomy Theme:

Food and Agriculture Innovation


As our planet faces the dual challenge of an increasing population and the pressing impacts of climate change, the future of food and agriculture emerges as a critical global issue. The need to sustainably feed a projected population of nearly 10 billion by 2050--against the backdrop of climate change, shrinking arable land, and dwindling natural resources--underscores a pressing need for innovation. This scenario is not just about agricultural productivity; it encompasses broader themes of nutrition, human and animal health, food security, environmental sustainability, and social, economic well-being for farmers and communities.

Food and Agriculture Innovation Logo

Enhancing sustainable food and agriculture solutions for a growing population.

On the positive side, the landscape of agriculture and food production is on the cusp of a significant transformation. With the advent of advanced technologies and scientific breakthroughs, the R&D community stands at the forefront of pioneering sustainable solutions. The challenges are multifaceted, and ensuring a secure, global food supply in the face of demanding climate conditions must include improvements in crop yields, productivity, climate resilience, nutritious content, sustainable livestock management, and regenerative agricultural practices, all whilst meeting emerging needs for agriculturally-derived feedstocks for fuels and chemicals.

Innovative R&D offer a pathway to address these challenges. Biotechnology, for instance, holds the key to developing drought-resistant and nutrient-efficient crop varieties, while advances in soil science, including engineering of the soil microbiome, can lead to more sustainable land management practices. Precision agriculture, automation, and controlled environment production leveraging IoT and AI, can optimize resource use and boost productivity. Additionally, the exploration of alternative and novel food sources presents an opportunity to diversify our food systems and reduce environmental impact. These are just a few examples to provide a sense of potential, but ideas outside these examples are welcome.

Call to Action

The CASA-Bio initiative was created to help implement the Bioeconomy Executive Order issued by the White House in September 2022. The EO laid out a vision for government-wide collaboration to advance biotechnology and biomanufacturing through foundational and use-inspired research in five thematic areas: climate change, food and agriculture, supply chain resilience, human health, and the cross-cutting advances. The goal of CASA-Bio is to bring the EO to life.

The first step in the CASA-Bio Action Plan was a set of so-called Alignment Meetings held in December 2023 in which representatives from government funding agencies, industries, and non-profits met and collaborated to identify scientific subthemes of shared interest—within each of the Bioeconomy Executive Order Themes--that we believe have high potential to advance the bioeconomy through innovative R&D. Now, it is time for step two. We invite you, the research community, to view these subthemes and consider how your research ideas could contribute. Your input will serve to help us define synergistic priority research areas that will be subjects of future research community workshops and development of road maps for addressing key challenges to advance the bioeconomy.

For scientists and engineers, the opportunities to contribute to this vital field are abundant. Whether your expertise is in computational biology, microbiology, biotechnology, genetics, robotics, computer science, environmental science, or food technology, your research can have a profound impact. There is a growing need for interdisciplinary approaches that combine different areas of expertise to create holistic and sustainable solutions.

This is a call to action for the R&D community. The future of our food systems and agricultural practices depends on the innovations we develop tomorrow. Your work can lead to more resilient cropping systems, sustainable farming practices, efficient resource use, and ultimately, a more secure and sustainable food future. By engaging in this field, you're not just contributing to scientific progress; you're playing a crucial role in shaping a sustainable future for our planet and its inhabitants, ensuring that we can feed our growing population in a way that respects the Earth and its resources.

Representative Subtheme Challenges:

Powered by AI/ML and engineering biology, revolutionary advances are needed to produce high-yield crops adapted to changing climates and livestock with greater environmental sustainability.
Plant-based agriculture needs more resilient, systems-level approaches to meet growing demands for efficient land use and production of food and bioenergy feedstocks.
There is a pressing need to improve agricultural vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics to enhance food security, lower costs, and increase agricultural sustainability.
Innovations are needed to meet growing global demands for nutritious food, new bioproducts with novel properties, and replacements for products that depend on non-renewable resources.
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CASA-Bio is based upon work supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation under Contract No. 49100423P0058. Any opinions, findings and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. National Science Foundation.
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