Knowledge for better food systems

Showing results for: Technology

The role of technology in food production and preparation dates back to the neolithic discovery of controlled fire. These days new technologies in, for example, agricultural production, processing and food preservation are key to achieving a sufficient supply of food for a growing population. Controversies and disagreements exist around many technologies and their enabling infrastructure, most notably genetic modification, confined animal feeding operations and chemical crop protection.

Photo credit: Leslie De Blasio, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
15 February 2017

This chapter by Elias Fereres and Francisco J. Villalobos in the book Principles of Agronomy for Sustainable Agriculture argues that sustainable intensification of production would be best achieved through continuous, small productivity improvements rather than through a few revolutionary discoveries, at least in the medium term.

15 February 2017

This article in Nature Scientific Reports details a new approach for generating skeletal muscle from pigs which can be used to make skeletal muscle – the main component of pork meat – in vitro. The techniques are potentially applicable to other types of muscle, such as heart muscle tissue, as well.

10 January 2017

In this evidence review, co-written by FCRN member Ken Giller, the authors assess the extent to which agronomic fortification, the application of micronutrient fertiliser to crops, can improve the nutritional quality of diets in sub-Saharan Africa. They find that, while the technique has been shown to be effective in increasing the nutritional content and yield of crops, more research is required to establish the degree to which it can alleviate micronutrient deficiencies in humans.

Image credit: USDA, Kitayama Brothers, Inc. (KBI) hydroponic greenhouses, Flickr, Creative Commons licence 2.0
10 January 2017

This paper describes the operation of a bubble-insulated greenhouse system that recycles organic waste, through its anaerobic conversion into biogas and digestate, into inputs for new food. It reports that commercial crop yields were repeatedly matched and bettered, while an 80% reduction in heat energy demand and 95% reduction in CO2eq emissions was realised compared to conventional greenhouse production.

Photo credit: Nicola, Clouds, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 November 2016

Nitrification inhibitors are thought to mitigate climate change by reducing emissions of nitrous oxide — a potent greenhouse gas — from land. However, they may not be as effective as once thought, a new study suggests. The researchers found that, while inhibitors decrease emissions of nitrous oxide, they can increase emissions of ammonia — which is later converted to nitrous oxide. They recommend these effects are considered when evaluating inhibitors as a mitigation technology.’

3 February 2016

This BBC News – Health article describes the new smartphone app that has been released by Public Health England (PHE) as part of its Change4Life advertising campaign. The app allows the user to scan the bar-codes of over 75,000 food and drink items and be told how much sugar the item contains, either as sugar cubes or grams.

3 February 2016

This publication summarises the work of the FAO with the agricultural community to tackle climate change and its effects. The report begins by summarising four key underpinning principles of their work with food production systems:

18 January 2016

The certification organisation Rainforest Alliance states that scaled-up efforts to support climate-smart agriculture practices are desperately needed to support the millions of cocoa farmers that are suffering from the negative impacts of climate change.

17 December 2015

This paper entitled Creating When You Have Less: The Impact of Resource Scarcity on Product Use Creativity, argues that resource scarcity actually translates into enhanced consumer product-use creativity.

9 November 2015

The food and agriculture (F&A) industry must increase production, availability and access to food significantly over the next ten years if it is to meet the demands of a larger, increasingly urban global population according to a new report presented by Rabobank at Expo Milano 2015.

18 February 2015

Two reports this week by the US National Research Council look at whether humans could artificially steer Earth's climate by reflecting sunlight back into space, or by taking carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. The twin reports– Climate Intervention: Carbon Dioxide Removal and Reliable Sequestration and Climate Intervention: Reflecting Sunlight to Cool the Earth argue that carbon dioxide removal might have a place in a broader response plan, but sunlight-reflecting technologies are too risky.

23 October 2014

This report, Closing the door on HFCs, documents the continued shift away from hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) in the supermarket refrigeration sector. Now in its sixth year, EIA’s Chilling Facts reports have become an important resource used to disseminate information about progress in the shift away from HFC-based technology.

15 October 2014

In this Carbon Brief blog Dr. Rob Bellamy presents an analysis of geoengineering, discussing available alternative options, different perspectives and the complexity of applying such solutions to the real world. In presenting the results of past studies he concludes that despite the addition of more options and perspectives, there is a remarkable consistency of arguments in geoengineering proposals and alternatives. 

Read the full article here.

Read more about geoengineering on our website.

5 September 2014

The FoodSwitch app, developed by the George Institute for Global Health to help you make healthier food choices is one of three winners of the Public Health England Award. The app was designed to help the consumer make better food choices and works by displaying nutritional information and offering the user healthier alternatives to the items in their shopping basket.

27 March 2014

We include this initiative because it addresses the challenges of of ‘closing the food loop’. This innovative solar-thermal toilet was developed by a team led by CU-Boulder Professor Karl Linden to improve sanitation and hygiene in developing countries.

18 February 2014

The Danish Council of Ethics has launched an English version of its report on the ethical challenges associated with bioenergy production. The “Report on bioenergy, food production, and ethics in a globalised world” considers the production of bioenergy in a situation characterized by several major global crises - energy, food, climate and natural resources. Some forms of bioenergy may be a tool in battling the energy crisis and the climate crisis. However, growing energy crops may compete with food production and nature for scarce resources and thereby counter solutions to the equally acute crises concerning food and natural resources. The main focus of the report is thus on the ways bioenergy competes with food production and nature for scarce resources. The Council focuses also on the values that determine the choice of strategy in regard to countering these four challenges and points out that ethical deliberations should be more made more explicit in political decision-making related to major global crises.