Representative Subtheme Challenge:

HH-03: Human Nutrition

Imagine a future where your grocery shopping includes a diverse array of sustainably sourced, nutritionally optimized foods, all thanks to breakthroughs in biotechnology. You purchase bread enriched with plant-based proteins engineered for higher nutritional value, and a variety of vitamin-enhanced fruits and vegetables grown with minimal water and land use. This world is one where biomanufacturing and advanced agricultural techniques have revolutionized our food systems, with enhanced small-scale production using new plant varieties bringing nutritious food closer to home, thus promoting healthy diets. Thanks to collaborative efforts across disciplines, including genetic engineering and precision agriculture, we've dramatically reduced the carbon footprint of food production while ensuring abundant, nutritious options for all. This shift not only boosts global health and reduces healthcare costs but also establishes the U.S. as a leader in sustainable food production. It's a world where our robust investment in bioeconomy R&D has turned the ideals of environmental stewardship and universal health through nutrition into a living reality, profoundly impacting society at every level.

The field of human nutrition is at a pivotal juncture, with opportunities ranging from refining traditional farming and food production to embracing cutting-edge technologies for alternative proteins and bioengineered nutrition sources. Challenges include not only investing in infrastructure and research, but also educating the public on the importance of change and the opportunities afforded by innovative nutrition solutions. Addressing nutrition is crucial for enhancing health and reducing healthcare burdens, offering significant economic and quality-of-life improvements.

CASA-Bio stakeholders representing government, industry, and non-profit sectors, identified areas of mutual interest where concerted effort among them may lead more quickly to the realization of the envisioned future. These are a few of their ideas. Focus areas include developing sustainable food systems that integrate better nutrition and efficiency. This involves a multi-pronged strategy incorporating use of biotechnology for improved animal health and aquaculture, enhanced plant-based diets for sustainability, and exploration of alternative nutrition sources. Research is also needed to better understand human nutritional requirements and how they can be met with healthy, sustainably produced food. Additional research might consider regulatory challenges associated with the use of biotechnology for food systems and enhancing public awareness about the benefits of technologically improved nutrition systems. We emphasize that this list is not comprehensive; we need you to help us think deeper within this subtheme!

As a member of the R&D community, you too are a CASA-Bio stakeholder, and providing your insight on R&D projects that undergird this sub-theme and lead to solutions is critical. Your ideas will matter! Your individual project ideas and those developed as part of the collaborative Town Hall process will be combined to produce an aggregate view. This view will help us understand not only the interests of the R&D community, but also what they are willing to do to advance the bioeconomy. Topics among the R&D project ideas we receive will help government, industry, and non-profit stakeholders see the potential of the US R&D community to address critical future needs and help define topics for future exploration through workshops and roadmapping.

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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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