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Nanotechnology research receives $3.8 million in grants from USDA

Nine universities across the United States will share the funds

By Diego Flammini, Farms.com

In an effort to increase America’s food security, nutrition, food safety and environmental protection, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced $3.8 million in nanotechnology research grants.

Merriam-Webster describes nanotechnology as “the science of working with atoms and molecules to build devices (such as robots) that are extremely small.”

Nanotechnology and agriculture intertwine because some of the initiatives that are being conducted by nine universities across the United States aim to protect crops or improve infection detection in foods.

The recipients of the grants include:

University of Georgia
With $496,192, the research team will develop different sensors that are able to detect fungal pathogens in crops. The project will also develop a smartphone app for farmers to have so they can access their information whenever necessary.

Rutgers University
The school will use its $450,000 to conduct a nationwide survey about nanotechnology and gauge consumer beliefs about it and its relationship to health. Among the specifics it will touch on is the use of visuals to communicate nanotechnology.

University of Massachusetts
The researchers will concentrate their $444,200 on developing a platform to detect pathogens in food that is better than the current methods.

NIFA said investing in these kinds of technology now will have a positive impact on agriculture’s future.

"Nanoscale science, engineering, and technology embrace opportunities in a broad range of critical challenges facing agriculture and food systems" said NIFA director, Sonny Ramaswamy. "Advances in nanotechnology help secure a healthy food supply by enabling cost-effective methods for the early detection of insects, diseases, and other contaminants; improve plant and animal breeding; and create high value-added products of nano-biomaterials for food and non-food applications."

Join the conversation and tell us not only your thoughts about the initiatives being done by some of the universities, but also your thoughts on how closely agriculture and technology work together. 

Some nanotechnology projects are aimed at helping agriculture
Some nanotechnology projects are aimed at helping agriculture.

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