BUENOS AIRES — The world's food production system is bankrupt, and innovations that could help solve this enormous global issue include lab-grown meat, vertical farms and 3D food design.
This is the scenario laid out by food security expert Nicholas Haan at the recent InnovatiBA conference organized in Buenos Aires to discuss possible solutions. The World Food Program estimates that some 870 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition, which means that one in eight people can't lead healthy, active lives because they don't have access to proper nutrition. That means the system is failing to assure a basic human right, Haan says.
Not only does our system fail to feed everyone, but it's also putting too much pressure on the resources food production requires — land, water and electricity — he tells Clarín. Which is why innovations that public and private centers are developing, such as in-vitro meat, are critical.
Source: Mike Licht
"You take cells from a living animal that is not killed, and the cells are taken to a laboratory for cultivation," Hann explains. This development took a decisive step in 2013 when researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands created the first hamburger made of cow muscle cells. That particular cut was initially priced at a whopping $325,000.
But Haan says this type of meat will be available in supermarkets within a decade: "There will be the traditional meat option but also cultivated meat, which means a production method that will neither kill animals nor pass on illnesses like mad cow's disease, nor use up so many resources. And it will be cheaper."
Other technologies that could help mitigate food insecurity include hydroponic farming, or vertical greenhouses that would use less pesticides than traditional cultivation, and 3D design of foods and drinks developed with all the nutrients a person needs in a day.
"I know the Argentines love their barbecue," he says, but "there will be cultural changes, and they will adopt steaks made in labs. That will be a more environmentally friendly method as it will need less soil, water and energy, and will cut greenhouse gas emissions."