Comment: Electric food – new sci-fi diet could save our planet
In a column for the Guardian, George Monbiot writes about the potential to create food without plants, animals or soil, using instead bacteria that feed on hydrogen (generated by solar-powered electrolysis of water) and carbon dioxide from the air. Monbiot argues that this form of food production could eventually drastically reduce the amount of land needed for the global food supply chain, and suggests that the new foodstuff could be used as an ingredient in processed foods.
Pasi Vainikka, CEO of one startup in this area, Solar Foods, claims, “The concept is not dependent on agriculture, weather or climate; instead, it makes possible efficient and low-cost food production with solar energy anywhere, whether in a desert or in space.”
Monbiot says that researchers have calculated that the world’s current protein needs could be met with an area of land smaller than Ohio, using the new process. As he points out, the process could use deserts rather than agricultural land.
While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.