RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., March 14, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- The Soil Health Institute (SHI) today released the Conference on Connections Between Soil Health and Human Health report, which includes recommendations for better understanding soil health - human health relationships. The conference was designed to bring the soil health and human health communities together, establish the current state of collective knowledge, identify gaps and associated priorities, and scope a collaborative path forward. Held October 16 - 17, 2018, in Silver Spring, MD, the conference included more than 180 attendees from more than 120 organizations.
"We often consider how soil health supports human health in the context of feeding a growing world population. This is certainly a very noble goal by itself, but the potential does not end there," said Dr. Wayne Honeycutt, President and CEO of SHI. "Healthy soils filter and break down contaminants, reduce nutrient losses to our waterways, and help us both mitigate and adapt to a changing climate. Interestingly, however, we learned that the medical community largely thinks of soil decontamination rather than soil as a source of nutrients. We learned that the medical profession is so concerned about climate change that medical societies representing over half of the doctors in the U.S. have created a consortium to inform the public and policymakers about the harmful health effects of climate change. These are issues we can address by improving soil health!
"So, this conference provided all of us with an opportunity to challenge ourselves to listen and think beyond our professional disciplines and experiences," said Honeycutt.
The top 10 priorities for investigating soil health and human health connections are presented in the conference report, along with summaries and links to each presentation. "I was particularly intrigued by priorities to connect research on the human microbiome to the soil microbiome, quantifying how improvements in soil health affects nutrient density of food, and opportunities to jointly conduct research to optimize both human health and soil health outcomes," said Honeycutt. "We were extremely fortunate that many individuals contributed their expertise in organizing and participating in this conference. Our next step is to gather many of the same individuals and others to begin mapping out the approach for addressing, and hopefully, funding several of these priorities."
The conference was made possible due to the generosity of The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Danone North America, Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, Bayer Crop Science, United States Department of Agriculture – Agricultural Research Service, Syngenta, General Mills, Duke Sanford World Food Policy Center, CropLife America, and SHI.
The Soil Health Institute (www.soilhealthinstitute.org) is a non-profit whose mission is to safeguard and enhance the vitality and productivity of soil through scientific research and advancement. The Institute works with its many stakeholders to identify gaps in research and adoption; develop strategies, networks and funding to address those gaps; and ensure beneficial impact of those investments to agriculture, the environment and society.