McMaster and Guelph universities are tackling food insecurity and climate change
Projects at McMaster University and the University of Guelph are part of a $30 million investment in genomics-based innovation through the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems (CSAFS) program. A total of nine Interdisciplinary Challenge Teams across Canada are getting the funding through a partnership with Genome Canada, Ontario Genomics and other organizations.
With the world’s population at 8.1 billion people and counting, food insecurity is a major concern, especially when you factor in climate change. The biggest Canadian cellular agriculture project ever is being led by McMaster University with help from the University of Toronto, the University of Guelph and Collège La Cité, where researchers are developing efficient and economical ways to produce cultivated meat on a large scale.
One of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions in agriculture comes from methane-filled cow burps. Led by the University of Guelph, researchers are creating a diagnostic toolkit to help farmers breed dairy cows with better digestion, which will make them significantly less gassy.
These two projects are getting nearly $6 million from the federal government through Genome Canada. Another $4.4 million is being given to joint Ontario Genomics projects led by Genome Prairie and Genome BC. Researchers at the University of Manitoba are developing soil microbe inoculants to replace chemical fertilizers, while research is underway at the University of the Fraser Valley on how to create new agricultural technologies in a responsible way that will benefit everyone.
Ontario Genomics President and CEO Dr. Bettina Hamelin, says, “Climate change is threatening our food supply and these projects are just the tip of the iceberg in the critical innovation happening in Ontario to produce sustainable food for Canadians. With more support like this, we can bring more jobs to the province and create meaningful solutions to the world’s most serious problems.”
Dr. Rob Annan, President and CEO of Genome Canada, says, “By harnessing the power of genomics, and the strengths of diverse researchers, institutions, companies and communities, the Climate-Smart Agriculture and Food Systems initiative will support vital transformation across one of the most important sectors for Canada’s economy, our health and wellbeing.”
Ontario Genomics is a non-profit organization funded by the Government of Ontario and Genome Canada. Since 2000, Ontario Genomics has been nurturing innovation across the province by supporting genomic technologies in the health, agriculture and food, and environment sectors. Find out more at ontariogenomics.ca.
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