DES MOINES, Iowa --- Iowa State University President Steven Leath told an international audience this week the key to significant research advancements in world food supply, food security and environmental stewardship is commitment to public-private partnerships.
Leath said a strong, unified effort involving public and private universities, public agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture and private companies is necessary to address the daunting problems of hunger, nutrition and world food supply.
He and four other panelists representing public higher education spoke Oct. 14 as part of the week-long World Food Prize events. Appearing with Leath were Gebisa Ejeta, a 2009 World Food Prize Laureate from Purdue University; Louise Fresco, president and chairman of Wageningen University; Peter McPherson, president, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and Randy Woodson, chancellor, North Carolina State University.
“No one person, discipline, university or agency can alone address all of our major agricultural challenges,” Leath said, “We need to leverage each other’s talents and expertise.”
He cited as examples Iowa State’s role in the central Iowa Cultivation Corridor, a public-private partnership to spur discovery and growth in agricultural biosciences, biotechnology and related fields. He also cited partnerships within Iowa State, including an interdisciplinary research initiative he launched nearly five years ago.
Strong partnerships also are necessary to secure the level of federal research funding necessary to address major agricultural challenges. As he has noted in the past, Leath said medical research investment is $13 for every $1 devoted to agriculture.
Leath is a member of the World Food Prize Council of Advisors, and on Oct. 10 hosted the 2016 World Food Prize Laureates at the Iowa State Memorial Union.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Dr. Norman Borlaug establishing the World Food Prize. Borlaug received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1970. The World Food Prize is headquartered in Des Moines and headed by Ambassador Kenneth Quinn.