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.

12 June 2017

This report provides an overarching framework document on Sustainable Food Systems which outlines the areas of sustainability that are relevant for IFST and where they want to engage. The report is written by IFST (Institute of Food Science and Technology) – an institute representing some of the UK’s food science and technology professionals and working to promote the advancement and application of food science and technology.

Photo: mrskyce, Nitrogen!, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
7 June 2017

This paper proposes a solution to the problems associated with the high inefficiencies and indirect detrimental environmental impacts caused by reactive nitrogen use in agriculture.The researchers suggest that land-based agriculture could be bypassed and that Haber Bosch derived nitrogen could be used directly for reactor based microbial protein production. The advantages of microbial protein production are summarised, as are the opportunities and technical challenges for large-scale production. The authors emphasise that, aside from the scientific innovation required, the main challenge to address is obtaining acceptability from regulators and consumers.

8 May 2017

What is the latest science on soil's ability to pull carbon pollution out of the atmosphere? Breakthrough Strategies hosted a webinar on April 24 on the Technical Potential of Soil Carbon Sequestration. It featured three of the world’s leading experts on strategies for drawing carbon pollution out of the atmosphere and storing it in soils: Keith Paustian, Jean-François Soussana, and Eric Toensmeier.

Photo: wxmom, 'my fridge', Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
8 May 2017

This paper reviews the current literature addressing food refrigeration from a sustainability perspective and identifies a number of large and important gaps for future research. 

Photo: fklv, two fishing boats, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
19 April 2017

This paper models human and natural influences on the global capture of wild marine fish. The researchers show that wild fish harvest increases during the 20th century were most likely explained by improvements in fishing technology. Their simulated future projections, that assume ongoing technological progress and open access (i.e. no policy constraints), suggest a long-term decrease in harvest due to over-fishing.

12 April 2017

This Data Science Insights talk hosted by Thomson Reuters sees presentations from Professor Nilay Shah from Imperial College, Judith Batchelar, Director of Brand at UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’s, and Derek Scuffell, Head of R&D Information Systems at Syngenta, who share insights on how their supply chains are driven by data.  They discuss how advances in genetically modified foods and in agricultural technology could help prevent food shortages and price fluctuations and help the world feed itself by 2025.

Photo: Erik Edgren, Root, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0 generic.
4 April 2017

In this post in the Conversation, crop scientist Matthew Wallenstein, Associate Professor and Director at the Innovation Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Colorado State University, discusses the potential of natural microbes to improve agriculture and make it more sustainable. 

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.

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