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Expanding the Circle of Ag Chief Scientists Across the Globe

Last Published: 09/16/2013

This post is part of the Science Tuesday feature series on the USDA blog. Check back each week as we showcase stories and news from USDA’s rich science and research portfolio.

There are no borders around the opportunities and challenges we face in agricultural science.  Agricultural science priorities in one country are often shared by others.  That’s why agricultural science, whether national or international, benefits from being addressed globally and cooperatively.

That’s exactly what was discussed at the second G-20 Meeting of Agricultural Chief Scientists (MACS), hosted in June of this year by the Russian Federation, which currently serves in the role of 2013 G-20 President.  The MACS is an initiative endorsed by G20 Leaders, their Agriculture Vice Ministers and other International Research Organizations such as CGIAR because they know the value of identifying global research priorities and targets, facilitating collaboration between public and private sector organizations in key areas, and tracking progress on established goals over time. At the most recent meeting, we completed the MACS terms of reference, which established the operating parameters for this continuing forum.  To read more about the meeting, click here for the proceedings.

As I reflect on the 2013 MACS, I would like to share with you what I see are two major successes.  First, the creation of the MACS led many G-20 members to ask, “Who is our Agricultural Chief Scientist?  Do we have anyone in our government with that title?  Does this position focus on national or international agricultural science priorities?”  These are all very important questions that begin the process of raising the visibility of agricultural science within the G20 country governments and accelerating their involvement in our global work.

Second, the creation of MACS has led G-20 members to think more about the alignment of national and international agricultural research and development priorities, coupled with strengthening international cooperation.  Within the U.S. Government, we work closely to ensure our national and international agricultural research and development priorities are complementary.  Integrating these priorities is important, so that, together, our international research partners and U.S. scientists can help us all better focus our investments.  This is especially critical in the current fiscal environment.

Agricultural research and development can find the long-term solutions to the many agricultural and food related crises that we face today. But unless we find new and better ways to share data and genetic resources, improve our technology transfer and accelerate the sustainable intensification of the world’s productive lands, the same crises will continue to grow as world population expands.

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