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Agriculture Systems and Technology - Nanotechnology for Agricultural and Food Systems


Wednesday, May 06, 2015


Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology embrace opportunities in a broad range of critical challenges facing agriculture and food systems. This Priority Area encourages applications in the following broad areas:innovative ideas and fundamental sciences to develop nanotechnology enabled solutions for food security through improved productivity, quality, and biodiversity; improved nutritional value of feeds and more effective therapies that significantly impact animal health and wellness; enhanced food safety and biosecurity; and increased protection for natural resources, the environment, and agricultural ecosystems. 

The Program Area Priority scope includes, but is not limited to: 
- Novel uses and high value-added products of nano-biomaterials of agricultural and forest origins for food and non-food applications; [Applications involving intentional addition of nanoparticles or nanostructured materials into foods for human consumption will not be solicited this year.] 
- Nanoscale-based sensing mechanisms and smart sensors for reliable and cost-effective early detection of insects, diseases, pathogens, chemicals, and contaminants; 
- Monitoring physiological biomarkers for optimal crop or animal productivity and health; 
- Minimally invasive field survey tools for agricultural production; 
- Precision agriculture technologies including applications of agricultural chemicals and water resources; 
- Assessment and analysis of the perceptions and social acceptance of nanotechnology and nano-based food or non-food products by the public and agriculture and food stakeholders, using appropriate social science tools; and 
- Discovery and characterization of nanoscale phenomena, processes, and structures relevant to agriculture and food. 

To ensure responsible development and deployment of nanotechnology and reap the benefits, applications should consider incorporating proper risk assessment studies as appropriate. These may include characterization of hazards and exposure levels, transport and fate of nanoparticles or nanomaterials in crops, soils (and soil biota), and livestock. This may also include animal feed formulations and processes that utilize novel materials or develop new nanostructured materials or nanoparticles that are bio-persistent in digestive pathways. Finally, all the applications, especially those with potential commercial impact, are encouraged to include economic analyses of anticipated benefits to agriculture, food, and society. 

This program area priority encourages new platforms of nanotechnology in the area of higher order assembled systems, and more complex systems that include the exploitation of bio-nano interfaces, hybrid bio-inorganic systems, systems biology, and synthetic biology. 

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