Danforth Researchers Focus On World Food Needs

Telling Your Story

State-of-the-art facility houses researchers from across the world

Published on: November 8, 2013

Last week, I shared with you about the opportunity I had to tour the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis.  The Danforth Center's research is focused on creating more abundant supplies of food, fiber, medicine and energy without adversely affecting the environment. 

What was striking to me about the Danforth Center was how much research is focused on world needs to produce abundant crops while considering the climate to specific areas.  With such a need across the world to produce more with fewer resources the Danforth Center has several researchers who represent their own country. 

Flags displayed at the Danforth center represent the people here, doing research on their countrys behalf. (Danforth photo)
Flags displayed at the Danforth center represent the people here, doing research on their country's behalf. (Danforth photo)

These flags represent the countries that have researchers working at the Danforth Center doing research on their county's behalf. 

The facilities at Danforth are state of the art, and allow for simulation of specific conditions for the area being studied.  Variables such as sunlight hours and temperatures can be modified to reflect what that country's conditions actually are, therefore, reflecting how the plants will actually produce on the ground.

Around the world, 90% of the land is farmed by small holder farmers, and each of these areas has their own unique challenges.  Ultimately, many of these small holder farmers and their communities could benefit the most from advancements in biotechnology.

A lot of the research at the Danforth Center uses biotechnology or genetic modification.  Biotechnology has been an important tool for American agriculture to maximize production, but it's amazing to think about the possibilities to improve nutrition across the world with further research.  Think about Golden Rice and the potential to provide some of the poorest people of the world access to beta carotene to be converted to Vitamin A to prevent blindness in children. 

There are amazing possibilities with biotechnology to nourish people and use resources more efficiently.  However, there are many people who do not share enthusiasm of the possibilities that biotechnology might offer.  There are questions about the safety, the motives of the corporations who produce them, and a lack of trust about the process of producing biotechnology.  With that in mind, it is important for agriculture producers to share how biotechnology has been helpful to their farms.

Research in biotechnology for each region of the world is part of improving food production around the world.