Patrick Cunningham print  
Patrick Cunningham is Professor of Animal Genetics in Trinity College, University of Dublin. He was formerly Deputy Director (Research) in the Irish National Agriculture and Food Research Institute (1980 - 1988), visiting Professor at the Economic Development Institute, World Bank (1988) and Director of the Animal Production and Health Division, Food & Agriculture Organisation of the UN, Rome (1990 - 93). He has published extensively on the genetics of domesticated animals. He is co-founder and Chairman of the biotechnology company IdentiGEN. He has been President of the European and World Associations of Animal Production, and
served on the European Life Sciences Group which advised Commissioner Busquin.
The New Challenges that will drive the Research Agenda
The notion of “the end of history” has proved premature. New challenges are forcing change in global food production, trade and consumption at unprecedented rates. There are steadily increasing pressures on world resources of land, water, energy, environment and climate. There is growing disparity between those whose food chain is secure and those for whom it is precarious. The need for well directed investment in research to find solutions to these challenges has never been greater. Among the major issues are: • Changing patterns of consumption – in particular the increasing use of meat and dairy products that comes with growing wealth and urbanization • The changing food chain – longer, more complex, and often with greater potential for threats to human health • Globalisation, with an increasing proportion of foods traded internationally, producing exceptional pressures for change in production systems in many countries • The energy sector, the greatest single factor in economic security, and intimately connected to food security • The environment, with climate change the central concern, and with huge implications for food production systems, particularly in fragile areas The research agenda to meet these challenges is different from that of the past. Formerly, yield enhancing or cost reduction technologies were the main objective. Pre and post evaluations of research showed good cost/benefit returns to the users of the technologies, and through them to society. The new agenda is directed more at the delivery of public goods, and the formal evaluation of returns is correspondingly more difficult. Despite this, the scale and urgency of the research challenges is greater than ever.