Food Supply Chain Revolution
The Lab as Farmland: Artificial meat and vertical farms will feed the world
The current food supply chain – covering how, where and which food is produced as well as how it is disposed is on the edge of a major revolution.
Present cultivation methods are considered to be unsuitable to satisfy the growing demand for affordable and high quality food in sustainable way. Modern agriculture is resource intensive and has a huge environmental foot print: It uses 37% of the available land. Together with forestry it accounts for about 24% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Especially meat production has a heavy impact.
Researchers are experimenting with environmentally advantageous approaches to produce meat but without the need to slaughter animals. For instance, with the help of tissue engineering technology, meat cells are grown in-vitro. Additionally, alternative sources of proteins, for example insects grow in popularity for human nutrition and animal feeding.
New farming concepts, such as hydroponics (growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions, in water, without oil) and vertical farms (producing food in vertically stacked layers), are sprouting up. Thanks to advances in genomics, modifications to food become possible, leading to a new class of food supplements, artificial nutrition, functional food and personalized nutrition.
By 2050 food production will have to increase by 70% to satisfy the huge demand of the growing world population, especially that for higher-value animal proteins.