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Importance of Human Nutrition in Agricultural Production 

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: Human Nutrition Research Priorities
: David Klurfeld506 31 Aug 2012
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Diets are composed of plant and animal foods that are produced by our agricultural system; accordingly, the support of human health must be an explicit goal of domestic agricultural production. To this end it is imperative that agricultural and food scientists and human nutritionists work together to ensure they have current information about both human nutrition needs and access to healthy diets is incorporated into agricultural research and production. Some problems in human nutrition are closely aligned with similar agricultural problems (especially animal production) and cross-cutting research is beneficial to both.

1) Brucr Gjovig5 (03 Sep 2012)
organic farming cannot possibility produce the amount of safe, healthy food we need without chemicals, so we must grow the healthiest food we can
2) Tom Bruulsema7 (04 Sep 2012)
The 4R Plant Nutrition approach supported by the fertilizer industry emphasizes social, economic and environmental outcomes. Improved human nutrition would clearly provide social and economic benefits. There is a need to advance science-based management of plant nutrition to facilitate the application of the right source of plant nutrients--at the right rate, time and place--to ensure optimum nutritional qualities in food crops. A second need is to develop systems that provide the food customer the assurance that food products have been so managed to attain these optimal levels of nutritional qualities.
3) Mary Ann Lila3 (04 Sep 2012)
Need to consider that the health benefits of plants (conferred by phytochemicals) goes beyond the strict definition of 'nutrition'
The extra-nutritional phytochemicals that confer protection against chronic disease, for example, are ripe for research on bioavailability and efficacy, but this is not strictly nutrition
4) Sharon L Hoerr13 (04 Sep 2012)
I would like to see more emphasis on plant foods and low fact dairy in this area as energy costs of production rise, and less on meat based, especially processed meats. This would be in keeping with the current focus of the dietary guidelines.
5) Sharon L Hoerr13 (04 Sep 2012)
OR, a new emphasis on urban agriculture especially for areas considered food deserts.
6) Marianne Gillette15 (05 Sep 2012)
It is also critical that the FLAVOR and ENJOYMENT of the fruits and vegetables be considered. We eat for flavor first. The better the fruits and veggies taste, the more we will eat...and benefit.
7) Elizabeth Jeffery6 (06 Sep 2012)
Plant varieties vary greatly in their content of phytochemicals. Studies are needed to identify then promote the use of varieties that are particularly rich sources of both nutrients and phytochemicals - this is particularly important given that the Americn public often do not eat their 5 or more a day.
8) Cecil Stushnoff4 (10 Sep 2012)
We have recently conducted research on vitamin C and antioxidant content with tomato, broccoli, lettuce and melon that compared organic production with conventional production. In all cases the most significant advance in nutritive attributes that we measured was due to genetics. This suggests to us that breeding for enhanced nutrition, a largely neglected trait, is open for advancement. Similarly comparison of diverse genetic lines in potato revealed large differences in antioxidant properties and inhibition of colon cancer cell cultures.
9) Henry Thompson41 (14 Sep 2012)
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 advance a transdisciplinary research agenda with a particular emphasis on the biomedical activity of staple food crops for their value in chronic disease prevention.
10) Jairam Vanamala3 (17 Sep 2012)
It is critical to optimize the farm to fork operations (includes superior cultivar selection)to preserve the bioactivity of plant foods, particularly staple foods. This is not possible unless scientists from all the disciplines involved in farm to fork operations work together, with a systems approach, to promote health and prevent disease.
11) Elizabeth Pivonka26 (20 Sep 2012)
Fruits/veggies are already good for you; making them more nutritious doesn't matter if people aren't eating them. Or telling them that they don't need to eat as much because this is even MORE nutritious doesn't then encourage them to displace other foods that are less nutritious and more calorically dense. Breeding for flavor is key, as well as breeding to allow less labor to help reduce costs (e.g. broccoli with longer stems to allow for mechanical harvesting.) More emphasis on those foods that are better for you, yet most lacking in the diet, is critical.
12) Elizabeth Pivonka26 (20 Sep 2012)
It would be useful to measure how regulations are hurting farmers/growers. And smaller farmers are getting a lot of breaks these days, it seems. How is that impacting mid-size farmers? What will it take to keep fruit/veg growers from moving operations from California to Mexico?
13) Barbara Schneeman12 (21 Sep 2012)
An important question in defining this research area is to understand the barriers to consuming a more healthful diet (i.e. is it cost, availability, flavor, taste etc). Can production agriculture help address those barriers? This area needs to consider more that simply focusing on the nutrient profile of commodities.
14) Johanna Dwyer40 (24 Sep 2012)
this is an important area and one that USDA has the capacity to do a fine job in. I think Dr.Schneeman is right in that it is important to understand which of the many barriers to healthful diets production ag can really address and overcome is critical.
15) Richard Joost3 (05 Oct 2012)
The soybean composition research being supported by the United Soybean Board and conducted by USDA and university researchers directly supports this idea. Better coordination of human health/nutrition efforts with agricultural research to improve soybean composition for the human diet would be ideal. Ultimately designing our agricultural products to better meet the needs of the consuming public should be a primary objective.
16) Kelly Olson9 (14 Oct 2012)
More research is needed on ways to more effectively promote My Plate dietary recommendations to different age and socioeconomic groups. Current low acceptance rates is a significant impediment to reducing obesity and other chronic health problems.
17) Janice Rueda12 (15 Oct 2012)
The role of crops with inherent nitrogen-fixing capacity in rotational crop systems should be better understood and quantified as to the effects on increasing yield and potentially decreasing the environmental burden of staple crop production.
18) Christian Peters8 (15 Oct 2012)
A significant portion of USDA's intramural and extramural funding focuses, quite correctly, on production agriculture. However, given the epidemic of obesity and other diet-related chronic diseases, it is necessary to determine how human health concerns should impact agricultural production.

To this end, I support the comments made by Drs. Schneeman and Dwyer regarding the need to understand the barriers to consuming a more healthful diet. In addition, I think it is important to better understand how dietary changes influence agricultural production systems and vice versa. As a single example, consider the fate of higher-fat cuts of meat as U.S consumers shift to leaner cuts. Is this a solid waste issue? Does it transfer the health problems of high-fat consumption from one population to another? Is it a livestock production problem (i.e. raise leaner animals)? Viewing agriculture and nutrition together brings such issues to the surface.
19) Shalene McNeill15 (15 Oct 2012)
Through a combination of breeding, feeding and retail trimming practices, the total fat content of conventionally fed red meats has declined dramatically over the last 3 decades. Furthermore, the majority of fatty acids in red meats are a combination of monounsaturated and neutral saturated fat (stearic acid). Human nutrition research is needed to assess the impact of current levels and types (leaner) of red meat intake when consumed as part of a recommended dietary pattern on selected health outcomes (ex CVD, Met Syndrome) to determine if nutrient modifications of livestock (especially beef and pork) are warranted.
20) Jonathan Mein9 (15 Oct 2012)
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans continues to highlight increased consumption of fruits and vegetables as part of a healthy diet. However, nearly three-quarters of Americans do not meet the recommended intake levels for fruits and vegetables. Consumer research clearly indicates taste, flavor, appearance, convenience, and nutrition as the top drivers of fruit and vegetable consumption. The variation in taste, flavor, and nutrition components are driven by both genetic and environmental factors. Agricultural production has to date focused on agronomic aspects, such as yield and disease resistance, with little emphasis on quality traits, an often neglected aspect of plant breeding. Agricultural production is shifting dramatically from open field to protected environment as well from northern US to Mexico and Latin America. These shifts warrant systematic measurement and understanding of flavor components, nutrients, and phytonutrients. Placing emphasis on this type of research and data is critical for establishing a proper baseline for flavor and nutrients, leading to the development of varieties with consistent and better flavor and nutrition and ultimately increased consumption.