Current Activities

U.S. Food Security Measurement Methods Adapted for Use in Other Countries

In 1995, the United States became the first country to measure and monitor household food security (access to enough food for active healthy living) at a national level. Since then, ERS—which plays a leading role in U.S. household food security measurement—has provided technical assistance to researchers interested in adapting the U.S. methods for use in other countries, including Brazil, India, Israel, Bangladesh, Portugal, and Burkina Faso. Earlier this year, ERS sociologist Mark Nord described lessons learned from measuring U.S. food security to nutritionists and social scientists from Israel, Palestine, and the United States at a conference jointly sponsored by Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel), the conference site; Al Quds University (Palestine); and Tufts University (United States). Conference participants met to plan collaborative research on child nutrition in Israel and Palestine and considered, among other issues, the role food security measurement could play in improving child nutrition.

Interagency Group Discusses the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources

In June 2005, a U.S. interagency group met with representatives from Canada in Washington, DC, to discuss developments related to the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. The treaty governs the exchange of germplasm of 35 crops and 29 genera of forages. Though the Treaty entered into force on June 29, 2004, the lack of a standard Material Transfer Agreement (MTA) has left uncertain the terms of germplasm exchange. The group—which included representatives from ERS, other USDA agencies, and the State Department—discussed issues and proposals regarding MTAs for the upcoming First Meeting of the Contact Group on the Terms of the Standard Material Transfer Agreement, scheduled for August in Hammamet, Tunisia. The standard Material Transfer Agreement will play a key role in determining future germplasm exchange among parties to the Treaty. The U.S has signed, but not yet ratified, the treaty.