We share this planet with millions of species. A few feed us directly while others are central to our planetary ecosystem. Population growth places us in conflict with the natural world, threatening major declines in global biodiversity. The grand challenge is to develop systems capable of meeting the rising human demand for food that are resilient to climate change and will sustain healthy ecosystems, economies, and populations.
Food from Thought will allow the University of Guelph to become one of the global leaders in this field by integrating existing strengths, such as the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics and Canada’s largest network of agriculture and food research facilities. This integration will support a unified scientific vision: to transform our understanding of the ecosystems we depend on for food, at scales that range from planetary to microcosmic; and, to increase the capacity, sustainability and safety of food production systems without undermining environmental health, ecosystem services, or livestock health and welfare.
The theme that ties these objectives together is the effort to move the study of each scale of ecosystem into the world of big data by employing sensors that gather information in unprecedented volumes and developing the capacity to analyze, preserve, and curate data.
To realize our vision of a data-driven approach to managing ecosystems important for food, Food from Thought will work towards three distinct missions: (1) Transforming agriculture’s impact on biodiversity at the global scale; (2) Sustainably intensifying food production at the landscape scale; (3) Enhancing food safety and livestock health at the micro-scale.