10 interdisciplinary projects have received funding through the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future‘s (ACSF) academic venture fund for spring 2012. The awards, totaling $735,000, were announced May 18. (See Safe insecticides, algal biofuels among 2012 academic venture fund projects, Cornell Chronicle, 5/31/2012.)
Two of particular horticulture interest:
Sustainable Production of Staple Leafy Green Vegetable Crops in Sub-Saharan Africa
Sukuma wiki (leafy greens) is a nutritious vegetable enjoyed by millions in East Africa, but leaf damage from “black rot” can result in market losses of more than 50 percent for smallholder farmers. Cornell researchers are transferring resistance to black rot, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris, into sukuma wiki by crossing the plant with resistant cabbage. Working with African partners, Phillip Griffiths (HORT), Jenny Kao-Kniffin (HORT), Helene Dillard (CCE), and Miguel Gómez (AEM) will field test sukuma wiki with enhanced resistance to black rot, develop production guidelines to suppress the disease, and introduce American collard greens.
Does a Healthy Diet Lead to a Healthy Environment?
Industrial agriculture, one of the major sources of greenhouse gas emissions and nitrogen pollution, places significant stress on the planet. Rising obesity rates pose a similar threat to public health. This holistic project suggests that what is better for human health may also be better for the environment. Robert Howarth (EEG), Christina Stark (NS), Ian Merwin (HORT), Laurie Drinkwater (HORT), and Jennifer Wilkins (NS) will assess how diet changes, waste reduction, and organic agriculture can affect greenhouse gas emissions, nitrogen pollution, and land use, yielding crucial information about the best diet for both human and environmental health.