Nature, nurture and technology

Today I’m at Food Matters Live, and one very interesting presentation from Henry Dimbleby, head of the national food strategy, outlined the history of this country’s problem with food production and waste.

His premise is that the UK must transition to a sustainable post-Brexit food system by 2030 or face further climate breakdown and the continued rise in diet-related ill-health.

The government’s lead strategist argues for innovation to be part of the food picture. He calls for a mix of the old and new to tackle the problems.

Will it work? A joined up discussion is certainly needed.

A big part of innovation is making science work with nature – agroecology is one buzzword. The approach takes into account natural ecosystems and uses local knowledge to plant a diversity of crops that boost the sustainability of the farming system as a whole.

Another buzzword is precision fermentation, albeit disruptive.

By 2030, modern food products will cost less than half as much to produce as the animal-derived products they replace.

At the same time, this new production system has the potential to spur competition and fast iteration of products that are ever cheaper and ever better: more nutritious, healthier, better tasting, more convenient, and more varied, as long as nutritional standards are protected.

How do we get such thinking absorbed by society? And, what about taste? The ethics have to be right.
Innovation needs nurturing.

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