Evaluating Ideas and Methods in Agriculture

One of the partners and I have been engaged in a discussion that starts to take our farming methods work and determines a protocol to evaluate the integration of a ‘new idea’.

The exchange began because of a concern about genetic manipulation… but could easily extend to any agricultural innovation.

My anxiety arises based upon the broad question of ‘How do we know?’ the impact (both short and long term) of any new method.

As a general statement, I would hypothesize that agricultural science has been severely underfunded in comparison to medical science. I also think it is fair to hypothesize that agricultural science research has been severely anthropocentric.

From a bit of Internet research:

U.S. healthcare research spending in 2016 appears to be approximately $50B (Federal government portion). The only statistic I found on industry investment was from 2010 for $76.5 B.

U.S. agricultural research spending in 2016 appears to be approximately $3B (Federal government portion).

Given our society and the Earth are suffering from 20th Century anthropocentric ideas and methods, I’d also hypothesize there would be enormous social, environmental, and cultural benefit to broadening the ‘human centered’ perspective that drives research spending in America.

Now comes the BIG question…how to develop a research protocol for agriculture 1) intelligently linked to other disciplines, 2) free of species biases, 3) sustainably funded, and 4) capable of answering sophisticated scientific and cultural question.