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.

Image: IF Half Burger, Impossible Foods Press Kit
16 July 2019

This paper argues that animal product alternatives (including both plant-based products and cellular agriculture) are likely to be implemented within the current “corporate food regime” and may not be compatible with a food sovereignty perspective. However, it suggests that using a “food tech justice” lens could guide animal product alternatives towards a role in a food system that considers health, equity and sustainability.

Image: Berkshire Community College Bioscience Image Library, cross section: smooth muscle magnification: 400x, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication
16 July 2019

This paper, co-authored by FCRN member Alexandra Sexton (who is part of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People project), identifies key moments in the field of cellular agriculture from the past two decades. The first wave of largely university-based research lasted until the 2013 presentation of the cultured burger created at Maastricht University, while the second wave has seen the emergence of a start-up culture.

25 June 2019

This report from UK supermarket Sainsbury’s sets out predictions for how the food system might be in the years 2025, 2050 and 2169. Near-term predictions include milk made from algae, and increased numbers of flexitarian eaters, while long-term predictions include farming in inhospitable landscapes such as deserts or Mars, and personal microchip implants that tell us exactly what nutrition we need.

Image: Michael, Green Plants Field, Pexels, Pexels license
25 June 2019

This paper presents a newly developed open-source system for precision agriculture in lettuce production. The system, known as AirSurf, uses a lightweight manned aircraft to gather images of lettuce fields, then a deep learning algorithm assesses the state of the lettuce crops on a number of characteristics, including lettuce size and number per field.

17 June 2019

This report from US management consultancy AT Kearney identifies trends in the cultured meat and meat replacement sectors. It estimates that, by 2040, cultured meat and novel vegan meat replacements will together account for a greater market share than conventional meat.

3 June 2019

The US-based Good Food Institute, which promotes plant-based foods and lab-cultured meat, has produced two State of the Industry Reports on plant-based and cell-based foods. The report outline industry developments during 2018, list the main industry actors, discuss regulatory updates in the United States, and analyse investment trends.

Image: Naïo Technologies press kit, Robot DINO
29 May 2019

This feature in the New Food Economy explores how autonomous weed-picking robots could replace herbicides and tackle weeds that have become resistant to some herbicides. The robots use both GPS tracking and cameras to navigate fields and remove weeds.

29 May 2019

This report from US charity The Nature Conservancy explores how private investors can help to meet the demand for sustainable seafood by investing in new forms of aquaculture that have lower negative environmental impacts than conventional aquaculture.

Image: CSIRO, Microalgae – Nannochloropsis sp., WIkimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported
29 May 2019

This paper, produced by the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge, outlines a system that could produce animal feed with lower environmental impacts than conventional soybean production. The system combines LED lighting, indoor photobioreactors, atmospheric carbon capture and geothermal energy to produce an algae-based feed product.

13 May 2019

This free e-book, by Ahmed Khan of CellAgri, gives an overview of the field of cellular agriculture, including the basics of the concept, key terms, challenges in scaling up the technology, cellular agriculture products and regulatory aspects.

Image: Daniel Schwen, Tobacco Hornworm, found in Urbana, Illinois, USA, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International
29 April 2019

This paper explores the possibility of producing food by growing insect cells in the laboratory using cell culture techniques. It suggests that it may be easier to overcome certain technical challenges to cell culture by using insect cells rather than (say) beef, pork or chicken cells.

24 April 2019

This book by David McClements discusses scientific and technological advances (such as gene editing, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence) in the food system, and outlines both potential benefits to people and the environment and concerns over how the technologies might be used.

8 April 2019

Cellular Agriculture UK - a hub for the cultured meat sector in the UK - has created a database of people who are based in the UK and who have a professional interest in cellular agriculture.

1 April 2019

This report from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies emerging scientific advances that could help to make the US food system more resilient to rapid changes and extreme conditions, as well as making agriculture more efficient and sustainable.

20 March 2019

FCRN member Pat Thomas of UK campaign group Beyond GM has helped to set up the website A Bigger Conversation, which aims to bring together experts and thinkers, including scientists, academics, farmers, breeders and grassroots leaders, from multiple disciplines and multiple sides of the debate on genetic engineering in the food system.

Image: USAF, AEHF (Advanced Extremely High Frequency) Satellite, Wikimedia Commons, Public domain
26 February 2019

The 2019 Green Alliance Annual Debate discusses the ways in which earth observation and data science can improve our understanding of and ability to address environmental issues - for example, monitoring deforestation or water levels in reservoirs in real time through satellite images.

26 February 2019

The National Farmers’ Union, which represents agriculture and horticulture in England and Wales, reports on the trends that might influence food production, diets and food retail in the UK over the next two decades, including edible insects, robots, vertical farming and nanoencapsulation.

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