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Biomedical Agriculture 

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: Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production
: Henry Thompson41 14 Sep 2012
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There is a signficant communications gap between scientists working in the biomedical sciences and those working in agriculture, particularly production agriculture. It is critical to not only stimulate a dialogue between the many disciplines represented, but to actually advace a transdisciplinary research agenda with a particular emphasis on the biomedical activity of staple food crops, the identification of crop varieites with the highest levels of activity in battling chronic diseases (obesity, type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer), and the development of local and sustainable food systems that can bring desired cultivars to the market place. We refer to this effort as biomedical agriculture.

1) Barbara Wallner8 (21 Sep 2012)
Professors tend to "stay in their silos." New transdisciplinary and translational areas MUST be explored. Predictions for increases in obesity continue to populate the media...and I believe them...IF we don't do more. Biomedical agriculture is the area of need for research and then translating research results into practice. Research from field to lab to clinic to farm to the world. Biomedical agriculture will be the new framework for training, discovery, and dissemination based on real world problems at the interface between biomedical sciences, agriculture, and public health.
2) Shawna Matthews7 (21 Sep 2012)
An editorial published today in Science suggests that the maximal capacity of the planet to sustain plant growth may be reached in the next few decades (Science 21 September 2012: 1458-1459. [DOI:10.1126/science.1227620] ). This possibility means that we need to be smart about what we're planting, and make sure that both agronomic and health traits are maximized in staple food crops in order to sustain the rapidly growing human population. We need to move past the idea that all varieties of a crop (or of any plant food) are created equal in terms of health benefits. Because of the inherent genetic diversity within every crop, it is a statistical certainty that variance exists in the amount of beneficial components, including phytochemicals, vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, etc., present within varieties. Further investigation of specific crop varieties is critical to advancing biomedical agriculture.
3) Elaine Krul6 (11 Oct 2012)
Food is the source of human health and wellness, and inadequate or inappropriate types of foods contribute to chronic diseases associated with malnutrition or “overnutrition”. Maternal diets impact fetal programming, infant diets impact gut microbiota, and inborn errors of metabolism are “treated” by diet. Yet despite this accepted knowledge, any food that cures or mitigates a disease is labeled a “drug” in today’s global regulatory environment. The latter reduces the incentive to work on “biomedical” foods. Before we can embark on research to understand and develop nutritious and disease-modifying food crops, work will need to be done to first acknowledge that food can prevent and mitigate disease and then develop a pragmatic, sensible and data-driven approach to food and naturally-occurring food bioactives, that is truly workable and accepted by health practitioners and regulators alike. The USDA-ARS can be a central and important player in this dialogue.