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.

23 June 2020

This report from the European Commission’s Science for Environment Policy describes the importance of pollinators (such as bees, flies and moths) for food production and for nature. It identifies several drivers of pollinator loss and sets out methods of monitoring pollinator populations.

9 June 2020

This blog post from US think tank The Breakthrough Institute examines uncertainties around the environmental impacts of cultured meat. It points out that estimates of the carbon footprint of cultured meat are highly variable, and that the impacts of switching to cultured meat depend on what it is replacing in the diet (e.g. beef, poultry, plant-based meats or tofu).

9 June 2020

This perspective piece assesses the technological readiness of a variety of food system innovations, such as artificial meat, drones and vertical farming. It also suggests eight ways in which food system innovation can be accelerated by incentives and regulation. 

19 May 2020

This book explores how proteomics - the study of the set of proteins produced by an organism or system - can be used to verify claims about the origin of foods such as milk, meat, fish, wine and honey.

7 April 2020

The Good Food Institute (US-based non-profit) has launched a database of funding opportunities in the alternative protein space, including opportunities related to plant-based proteins, cellular agriculture and proteins derived from fermentation. 

7 April 2020

This blog piece, by anthropologist Sarah Duignan of McMaster University, argues that a risk of cellular agriculture (i.e. lab-grown meat) is that some people may not benefit from the technology (despite its potential environmental benefits). For example, beef farmers may find themselves in similar difficulties to dairy farmers, who are struggling already because of decreased demand. 

16 March 2020

The Florida-based Cellular Agriculture Society has just relaunched its website with the aim of building a home for cellular agriculture on the internet. The website sets out a vision of what a future with cellular agriculture could look like, and explains how the processes of tissue culture and protein fermentation work. 

28 January 2020

This book reviews research on the development of biopesticides, including those based on microbes, natural substances and pheromones.

28 January 2020

This book by Carolyn Steel sets out a vision for a healthier, more ethical future food system. It discusses climate change mitigation, new food technologies, and the relation of food to ideas of a good life.

13 January 2020

In the documentary Apocalypse Cow, environmentalist and writer George Monbiot argues that much of the current farming system (except for fruit and vegetable production) will be replaced by food from microbes, freeing up large areas of land for rewilding and carbon sequestration. He also calls for fruit and vegetable farming to be reformed, e.g. by using deep-rooted cover crops to build soil fertility.

13 January 2020

This report from the UK’s Internet of Food Things Network Plus discusses how digital technologies can help food system actors to collaborate on addressing food system challenges such as traceability, food safety, efficiency, sustainability, health and waste.

7 January 2020

FCRN member Ken Giller, professor of Plant Production Systems at Wageningen University & Research, has contributed to the online magazine “The Story of N2Africa”, which tells stories from the last ten years of the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa.

7 January 2020

This paper from the UK’s Institute of Development Studies analyses how the project N2Africa: Putting nitrogen fixation to work for smallholder farmers in Africa has contributed to development outcomes in Ghana and Ethiopia. 

29 October 2019

This book discusses how networks of wireless sensors could be used in African agriculture, e.g. to minimise conflicts between wildlife, people and livestock, or to monitor livestock health.

2 October 2019

FCRN member Susanne Freidberg of Dartmouth College has written this paper about the difficulties that companies such as food manufacturers face in gathering data about their food supply chains and using that data to promote sustainability. The paper is based on over fifty semi-structured interviews with companies and analysis of their data collection tools.

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.

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.

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