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: Isaac Wedin, Salmon face, Flickr, Creative Commons License 2.0
29 August 2017

After a 25 year wait for approval, approximately five tons of genetically modified (GM) salmon have been sold in Canada in the last few months. The fish, which contains genes from Chinook salmon and ocean pout, can grow twice as fast as an Atlantic salmon and requires 75% less feed to grow to the same size. These changes can ultimately reduce the carbon footprint of each genetically modified salmon by up to 25 times, the company claims.

Photo: William Warby, Scorched Earth, Flickr, Creative Commons Licence Attribution 2.0 Generic
29 August 2017

In this opinion piece, Edward Parson of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, UCLA, argues that Climate Engineering (CE) must urgently be given greater and more serious consideration within climate change research and policy, and calls upon the IPCC to take responsibility for this.

24 July 2017

A small amount of single-cell protein has been produced using electricity and carbon dioxide alone. The researchers working on this believe the protein produced in this way could be further developed for use as food and animal feed. The protein can be produced anywhere that renewable energy, such as solar energy, is available.

19 July 2017

The IFST, a UK-based body for food professionals in Europe, has commissioned a report aimed at identifying areas of future work which they feel would be of most use to their members. The report focuses on food sustainability,  technology and evidence-based practice. 

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.

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