The University of Pennsylvania's School of Veterinary Medicine has launched a new research hub, the Center for Stewardship Agriculture and Food Security, located at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. The center enables Penn Vet to capitalize on its niche strength in animal agriculture, deepened through innovative partnerships with other Penn centers, to drive sustainable agricultural and veterinary healthcare practices and methods, while addressing the world's growing nutritional demands.
The CSAFS mobilizes Penn Vet's faculty who research and practice in nearly 20 agriculture-related specialties, along with Penn-wide affiliate faculty. The center will be dedicated to broadening the understanding of animal agriculture and food systems; uniting agriculture, ecosystems, and public health; examining soil health; and exploring climate change mitigation and resilience.
The center is led by Thomas Parsons, the Marie A. Moore Professor of Animal Welfare and Ethics, and director of Penn Vet's Swine Teaching and Research Center, who has advanced the understanding of sustainable models of agriculture through his study of animal behavior, health, welfare and applications of cutting-edge technology. He is recognized globally by scholars and industry leaders for re-envisioning animal husbandry, housing and feeding systems anchored around improving swine welfare.
"There is a tension between the two pressures that agriculture faces," said Parsons. "One is to be more environmentally friendly. Two is to go and feed the world. Our Center for Stewardship Agriculture and Food Security will focus on both facets at the same time. The center will foster the responsible use of natural resources – air, water, land and animals – entrusted to farmers to make food to feed the world's burgeoning population."
The center's core leadership team, led by Parsons as inaugural director, includes Penn Vet faculty members Zhengxia Dou, Meghann Pierdon, Dipti Pitta and Laurel Redding. The team will provide an ongoing source of integrative leadership and scientific collaboration for the center’s research and outreach agendas and educational priorities.
"The goal of the Center for Stewardship Agriculture and Food Security is to promote research, education and outreach on the future of agriculture, finding applicable solutions that enhance animal health and production all the while maximizing environmental services from agriculture," said Andrew Hoffman, the Gilbert S. Kahn Dean of Veterinary Medicine. "We are uniting our distinguished corps of veterinary scientists; integrating Penn faculty with disciplines outside of veterinary medicine; and recruiting new faculty. Scaling this multidisciplinary center is exciting. It is accelerating our ability to meet this generational, consequential moment in agriculture."
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