Contributed by Drs. Deanna Scheff and Amie Norton, USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
Promoting food security and reducing agricultural waste through new and innovative technologies is the topic of the session “Decreasing the Environmental Footprint by Decreasing Agriculture Waste” which we have organized for this year’s virtual GC&E Conference. This symposium brings together agricultural economists, chemists, engineers, and entomologists from around the world into one interactive symposium to talk about the science and technology behind reducing agricultural waste.
It has been estimated that by 2050, the world’s population is expected to increase by 30% and food production will need to increase by 60-110% in order to feed the world population. Several ways to increase food security include reducing food waste, reducing the environmental impacts of humans and agricultural practices, increasing protection of foodstuffs, and the development of value-added products. It has been estimated that up to one-third of food is lost or wasted each year and it is through the collaboration efforts of academia, governments, and industry throughout the world that we can begin to reduce food loss.
During our first session on Monday, June 14th, we will begin our symposium by hearing about the role of value-added agriculture on the agricultural system, economic impacts, and turning trash into treasures. This will be followed by additional talks about the application of innovative agriculture products. Our second session on Monday will explore the role insects have on agriculture and human health. Insects play multiple roles in the agricultural ecosystem. Insects can be pollinators for our crops, harmful to the food supply through infestations, and part of the food supply as new sources of protein for humans and animals. We will also explore the role of insect trapping and targeted pesticide applications to protect our agricultural food products from farm-to-fork.
Day 2, Tuesday, June 15th, kicks off with speakers presenting on the themes of biomaterials and biofuels. Speakers will discuss the ways solvents have been reduced in the synthesis of major organic reactions, the green synthesis of biofuels, and the production of innovative biofilms. In the second half of the session, speakers will highlight themes of developing mechanochemistry and a systems-thinking approach to safer pesticides.
A live Q&A will finish off each symposium session on Day 1 and 2, in which attendees can speak directly to our invited speakers and really start the discussion between scientists. Bring your questions, thoughts, and innovative thinking to this live discussion. Dr. Amie Norton and Dr. Deanna Scheff look forward to “seeing” you all this June!