With global challenges mounting, it is a crucial time to examine the role research plays in our economic, social, and political well-being. In this new Commentary from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST), Investing in a Better Future through Public Agricultural Research, a team of respected scholars provides objective, science-based insights into the state of U.S. investments in public agricultural research. The authors look at important, timely issues:

• The rates of return for agricultural research
• The question of who should fund research and how
• The consequences if research lags during this time of economic uncertainty
• The implications resulting from private research growing faster than public research
• The best methods for funding public agricultural research

Agricultural research is a low-cost source of future agricultural output, but advances in the frontiers of science are difficult and uncertain. The authors contend that, "With funding delays, world food prices will rise more rapidly than otherwise projected during the next 40 years."

Dr. Wallace Huffman, Distinguished Professor of Economics at Iowa State University, chaired the task force of notable scientists and researchers who drew from a wide base of information and included helpful charts and reference citations in their work. Their Commentary will be of interest to the Congress (for funding), the administration (for initiatives), and the public (for insight). Although the authors note that all research involves "uncertainty factors," they conclude with a positive assertion:

"Larger future investments in public agricultural research can be expected to provide large social benefits relative to costs and to provide a better future for people of the United States and the world."

Dr. John Bonner, CAST executive vice president/CEO, concludes: "CAST delivers science and technology information regarding healthy and productive plants, animals, people, and the planet. We are pleased to contribute this excellent, frank assessment of where we are and where we need to be to establish and sustain the health and abundance of world agriculture."

The full text of Investing in a Better Future through Public Agricultural Research (Commentary QTA2011-1, 12 pp.) may be accessed free of charge on the CAST website at www.cast-science.org, along with many of CAST's other scientific publications.