Faculty and staff members from four University of Minnesota schools and colleges—including the Humphrey School of Public Affairs—have joined forces to create an all-University Food Policy Research Center (FPRC). The new effort is designed to provide policymakers and consumers with a better, more complete and holistic view of food policy options through the examination of scientific data and policy analysis.
Led by Professor Will Hueston, D.V.M., Ph.D., the FPRC is comprised of food policy subject matter experts from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; College of Veterinary Medicine; Humphrey School of Public Affairs; and School of Public Health. Within the FPRC, these experts will capitalize on their combined perspectives to analyze food and nutrition policies affecting farmers, food processors, and consumers while leveraging initiatives in health and sustainability.
“Analysts tend to look at food policy from one angle—the angle that represents their individual expertise—and it’s hard to see anything else,” said Hueston. “As integrated policy research teams, we’ll be working together from all sides to form a more holistic review of food and nutrition policy.”
Drawing on strengths from across the University, these research teams will assess food and nutrition policy issues ranging from the school lunch program and food processing technology to trade agreements and the impacts of farming practices on the environment and the economy. To ensure this holistic approach continues, the FPRC’s education program will train the next generation of analysts to approach food policy from biological, public health, environmental, and social and economic perspectives
Three Humphrey School faculty members will play leadership roles with the FPRC, which was funded the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through a competitive proposal process. Executive Associate Dean Greg Lindsey serves on the FPRC executive committee, overseeing broad strategy for the center’s initiatives. Associate Professor Jennifer Kuzma is on the steering committee, which is charged with scanning the policy horizon to identify issues of interest and importance to consumers and policymakers and with assembling the research teams. Laura Bloomberg, director of the Center for Integrative Leadership, will be involved in the center’s education and training efforts.
“The FPRC is important to the Humphrey School because society’s goal of feeding the world raises profound policy issues, ranging from governance of emerging technologies, such as genetically modified organisms, to providing food for the world's poor at reasonable prices,” says Lindsey. “How we address and resolve these issues requires the work of the best minds in the policy field.”
“The creation of FPRC is an important recognition of role that rigorous policy analysis should play in ensuring that the food supply is safe, nutritious, and secure, while minimizing environmental impacts” adds Kuzma, who studies food nanotechnology and genetically modified food policy issues. “These issues can be complicated, but the results of the center’s research will be designed to be highly usable—for everyone, from technical and regulatory professionals in the Capitol to consumers.”