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Center for a Livable Future


Food Production and Public Health

At a time of unprecedented levels of food production, little about the industrial food production model is critically analyzed to reveal its hidden or externalized costs and unintended negative effects. Many of today’s industrial agriculture practices profoundly damage our soil, air, water, and ecosystem. In response to these challenges, the Center’s program on Food Production and Public Health focuses on the relationships among food production, the environment and public health.

The program aims to document the impacts of industrial agriculture practices, gather evidence to inform policymaking, and promote more sustainable and resilient methods of food production. The team is composed of the Center’s faculty, staff, pre-doctoral fellows and student research assistants. Drawing upon and harnessing scientific expertise throughout Johns Hopkins University and working with colleagues from other universities and nongovernmental organizations, the program advances scientific knowledge, communicates research findings, develops educational tools and serves as a resource for those working to protect health, the global environment and our ability to sustain life for future generations.

Highlighted Successes

  • In 2012, the Center for a Livable Future launched the Aquaponics Project at the Cylburn Arboretum, an experimental and educational project that is testing the sustainability of aquaponics and increasing awareness of this food production system.
  • Center researchers published evidence of antibiotic residues (including banned fluoroquinolone antibiotics) in feather meal, a common additive to poultry, swine, cattle and fish feeds.
  • Center-supported research using industry data demonstrated that the use of antibiotics for growth promotion in poultry is not cost-effective.
  • The Center used FDA data to determine that the vast majority of antibiotics in the United States—almost 80 percent—were sold for use in animals, not to treat infections or disease in humans.


Publications and Reports

Education and Outreach