In almost three decades, we’ll need a 30 to 70 % increase in food availability to meet the demand from a growing population. The global food system must also change to become more reliable. What should we expect?
Recent research offers a lot of insights into some game-changing, disruptive technologies that could support both the planet and people. It also explains how significant it is to come to a point where business, as usual, is not an option. How much the food system has to change? Here are the details you need to know.
Future Technologies Needed to Transform the Food Systems
A team of researchers examined 75 emerging technologies, many of them ready or almost ready. Their list includes technologies that contribute to a multitude of Sustainable Development Goals – decreasing environmental impact, climate action, healthy food – and can also be adjusted to a lot of political and institutional contexts. The distinct pipeline crosses the whole food value chain, from production, processing, consumption to waste management.
Some of the technologies are pretty known, such as 3D printing, artificial meats, “intelligent” materials, drones, or vertical agriculture. Others need a considerate effort of imagination, like spreadable biodegradable polymers that conserve soil moisture, nitrogen-fixing cereals that don’t require fertilizer and feed for livestock made from human sewage.
While the research centers on the possible advantages of these technologies, it also recognizes that there will be tradeoffs. And not only for our health and the environment – genetic modification of crops is intensely debated at the moment; there is also the threat that unequal access to expensive technologies worldwide could grow inequality. But, researchers believe in transparency, appropriate policies, and other rules.
Developing the social trust needed for future technologies to take the initiative will be the base of transformative change. Philip Thornton, the co-author of the research, explained: “Dialogue is the first step to repairing the trust between science and society.”