CAST Commentaries

CAST Commentaries - QTA2019-1 - March 2019

The purpose of this commentary is to document need for and anticipated benefits of developing data-sharing standards, incentivizing researchers to share data, and building a data-sharing infrastructure within agricultural research. The authors present the factors contributing to the current system of agricultural research that has fostered ambivalence toward data sharing; briefly review the success of data-sharing examples from other domains that offer promise for advancing agricultural research; and describe the advantages and shortcomings of emerging data-sharing platforms, networks, and repositories intended to facilitate data sharing in agriculture. Although they focus on accessing and using the full wealth of data generated by research, the authors realize impact from this effort also requires research in food production to de-emphasize smaller-scale, individual-effort studies and pursue larger efforts integrating social, economic, and environmental components. Thus, the ultimate goal is to advance the conversation among agricultural science partners to create a system conducive to data sharing and the team science that are needed to address the complex, “grand-challenge” questions in food systems. The authors highlight key strategies, roles, and responsibilities of partners in agriculture’s science and data enterprise, and they discuss the business case for data sharing as well as ingredients essential to data preservation and curation. Chair: Sylvie Brouder, Purdue University. QTA2019-1, 20 pp., March 2019, AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2017-1 - June 2017

Pollinators are responsible for about 1/3 of our human diet by volume. Although honey bees are one of nearly 20,000 bee species, they support more than $19B in food and crop production in the United States each year. A serious decline in honey bee health has significant implications for agriculture. This paper provides a summary of the scientific issues, current research, and recommendations related to bee health, as well as opportunities for beekeepers, land managers, crop producers, homeowners, and policymakers to engage in helping understand and address the problems to ultimately restore healthy populations of honey bees and other pollinators. Chair: Marla Spivak, University of Minnesota. QTA2017-1, 16 pp., June 2017, AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2016-2 - December 2016

This brief report outlines the main economic effects of the observed asynchrony in approvals for biotech-improved crops from regulatory systems in countries that are major global commodity exporters and importers. Initially the authors describe the work of scientists from a range of academic disciplines who use a variety of modeling and analytical techniques to approach this general question. In the next section the authors discuss in detail the question at hand and why it is so important to producers and consumers worldwide. The report then describes concrete research results in several relevant areas, including the effects on trade, downstream industries, the adoption of biotechnology innovations, biotech investment and R&D, crop breeding, and farm income. Proposed policies that could decrease regulatory asynchrony and its impacts on the global agricultural economy are also discussed. Chair: Nicholas Kalaitzandonakes, University of Missouri-Columbia. QTA2016-2, 12 pp., December 2016. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

Mandarin Chinese translation also available as download (click link).

CAST Commentaries - QTA2016-1 - February 2016

Bioenergy is being pursued globally to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and provide a reliable energy source. To lessen conflicts with existing food/feed production, bioenergy crops are bred to grow on marginal lands with minimal inputs. Many are concerned that new invasive species may be introduced as bioenergy crops. The authors of this commentary show that the risk of invasion can most effectively be prevented through a life-cycle approach that adopts appropriate scientific and policy tools at each step in the production process, from crop selection to field production, feedstock transport and storage, and decommissioning—thus avoiding the "kudzu effect." This paper provides a clear, comprehensive framework to guide regulatory agencies in the selection and permitting of biofuel feedstocks. Chair: Jacob Barney, Virginia Tech. QTA2016-1, 12 pp., February 2016. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2014-1 - July 2014

Aquatic plants are often dealt with on a local scale, when in reality they impact wide areas outside of the traditional lake or river habitat. They can affect aesthetics, drainage, fishing, water quality, fish and wildlife habitat, flood control, human and animal health, hydropower generation, irrigation, navigation, recreation, and, ultimately, land values. The authors of this paper emphasize the necessity for the skillful management of nuisance aquatic plants and algae, and they hope regulators, managers, stakeholders, and legislators gain scientific insights about this important issue. Chair: Kurt Getsinger, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center, Vicksburg, MS. QTA2014-1, 12 pp., July 2014. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2012-1 SPA - September 2012

La salud de los animales dentro del sistema de producción de alimentos repercute en muchos aspectos del sistema muy alejados de los propios animales. Para promover una alta productividad en la agricultura animal, los investigadores deben examinar la nutrición, los sistemas de gestión y las prácticas del cuidado de los animales, incluyendo el uso de antibióticos y vacunas. Este comentario analiza las presiones que existen para cambiar los métodos de cría del ganado, evidencia del impacto directo a la salud pública que se traduce en días de enfermedad, así como las buenas regulaciones del servicio de inocuidad e inspección. Los autores utilizan pruebas indirectas, diagramas y gráficos para presentar sus conclusiones acerca de las maneras en que los animales sanos tienen como resultado alimentos más seguros. Presidente: Dr. H. Scott Hurd, Universidad Estatal de Iowa, Ames. QTA2012-1 SPA, 12 pp. Mayo de 2012. DISPONIBLE ÚNICAMENTE EN LÍNEA.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2012-1 - May 2012

The health of the animals within the food animal production system impacts many aspects of the system far removed from the animals themselves. To promote high productivity in animal agriculture, researchers need to examine nutrition, management systems, and animal care practices including the use of antibiotics and vaccines. This Commentary looks at the pressures to change livestock rearing methods, evidence to support the direct public health impact on human illness days, and good safety and inspection service regulations.  The authors use indirect evidence, diagrams, and graphs to deliver their findings about the ways that healthy animals result in safer food.  Chair: Dr. H. Scott Hurd, Iowa State University, Ames. QTA2012-1, 12pp., May 2012. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2011-2 - June 2011

Humans and animals have been consuming genetically engineered (GE) food from plants for decades, but the recent approval of GE salmon intended as human food has resulted in debate and some controversy. Many still have concerns about the environmental impact and food safety issues of such an approval. More research is needed as policymakers struggle with laws ranging from the approval of GE procedures to the labeling of such food in the markets. This Commentary looks at how GE animals are currently regulated and what type of data is needed to demonstrate the safety of GE organisms. The authors also look at the opportunities for public participation in the regulatory process and the implications for the future of this technology.  Chair: Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam, University of California-Davis. QTA2011-2, 8pp., June 2011. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

PowerPoint Slide Presentation - Part 1 of 2


PowerPoint Slide Presentation - Part 2 of 2


CAST Commentaries - QTA2011-1 - March 2011

Everyone is concerned with return on investment, and agricultural research continues to be an example of the positive impact well-placed funding can have.  Agriculture is a key to the nation's economy, and research not only boosts that industry, it also promotes solutions for many of the country's pressing problems in the areas of health, energy, environment, rural development, trade, and food safety.  This Commentary is directed to the Congress (for funding), the Administration (for initiatives), and the public (for insight). Recognized scholars provide an assessment of the high "rate of return" agricultural research has delivered to the American and global public and why funding is truly in the public interest. As the authors point out, "Plans for a better future start today."  Chair: Dr. Wallace Huffman, Iowa State University, Ames. QTA2011-1, 12pp., March 2011. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.

CAST Commentaries - QTA2010-1 - September 2010

A panel of experts has outlined key issues regarding biomass crops by examining the harvest, transportation, and storage of cellulosic material. Task Force Chair Jerry Fruin indicates that successful biomass feedstock production depends on the smooth blending of successful approaches to these three logistical necessities. Citing a number of research activities aimed at providing solutions to specific processes within the feedstock chain, they look at biomass collection, storage, and costs, and then highlight results from studies regarding switchgrass and corncobs. Chair: Dr. Jerry Fruin, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul. QTA2010-1, 8pp., September 2010. AVAILABLE ONLINE ONLY.