The National Science Foundation has backed Iowa State University researchers’ work to develop a simulator to help people see the interdepencies among food, energy and water issues. 

For example, producing biofuels from grain -- Iowa leads the nation in ethanol production -- could have ramifications on food markets, an ISU news release noted. Crop farming has left water with high levels of nitrates, another relationship in the environment. 

The team will investigate how incentive and policy structures can be developed to achieve balance across stakeholders and to avoid unintended consequences.

“With food, energy and water, people have been making decisions in one subsystem without having any responsibility for the impact on the rest,” ISU aerospace engineering professor Christina Bloebaum said in a statement.

The researchers received a $2.4 million continuous grant from NSF.