Baenziger To Speak on Food Security, Future of Agriculture

Baenziger To Speak on Food Security, Future of Agriculture

UNL small grains breeder that up to now agriculture has been taken for granted, but now is seen as critically important nationally and globally.

Dr. P. Stephen Baenziger, UNL small grains breeder, will deliver "Setting the Stage: Why Agriculture" Nov. 10 at the East Campus Union in Lincoln.

His address, which begins at 4 p.m., is the second Heuermann Lecture. The new Heuermann Lectures focus on the world's growing food needs. Open to the public, they are made possible through a gift from B. Keith and Norma Heuermann of Phillips, long-time university supporters with a strong commitment to Nebraska's production agriculture, natural resources, and rural communities.

Steve Baenziger, UNL small grains breeder, has been responsible for the development and release of many productive wheat varieties for Nebraska and the Plains state.

"Agriculture has gone from being a nearly forgotten, taken-for-granted field to one of critical importance nationally and globally," says Baenziger, who University of Nebraska President James. B. Milliken named the recipient of the 2011 Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, NU's top award for research. Baenziger is the first UNL scientist to hold the Nebraska Wheat Growers Presidential Chair, an endowed professorship through a licensing agreement between NUtech Ventures and Bayer CropScience.

"The Green Revolution gave us 40 years of food surpluses, but we've used up those surpluses and once again live in a period of rising food prices and food scarcity," according to Baenziger. "Agriculture is vital both to Nebraska and the world. In 'Setting the Stage: Why Agriculture,' I'll look at where we've been, where we are, and a direction for the future."

Baenziger joined UNL in 1986 and has been working since to help Nebraska wheat growers improve their crops and help feed the world.

In the last five years, he has released six new wheat cultivars. He is quick to note the work of those who have gone before him and those he works with now who are key in accounting for the Nebraska-developed cultivars grown on 65% of Nebraska's wheat acres.

Recognized internationally for his work, Baenziger is one of only two Americans serving on the board of trustees of the prestigious International Rice Research Institute. The Institute's Director General is the other.

"Food, and how we produce food, and if there is enough food to keep the world's population free from threat of hunger and starvation, affect all of us," says Ronnie Green, NU Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources Vice Chancellor who serves as moderator for the Heuermann Lectures.

"We need to find ways to sustain our natural resources as we produce food to feed the world and provide renewable energy, even as we contemplate climate change's effect on crop production," Green adds.

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