Cambridge University Collates Research on the “Future of Food”

Why do we find tomatoes in the supermarket all year around? Why is a mango cheaper than a watermelon? What are Shitake mushrooms? – something not only Catherine Tate may wonder. More than half the people in the Western world carry food parasites in their bellies, most of the time unnoticed. … Food as a central and integral part of human life gets into the headlines more and more often.

Feeding the world’s population has become an ever-increasing issue. The world already has a population soon reaching 7 billion and more than one billion people in developing countries do not have enough food to cover their basic needs. The human population is expected to reach 9 billion by 2050. Meanwhile, people really struggle these days in the developed world with unhealthy diets partly due to pressured life styles and a flood if important exotic foods.

This fuels the debate as to how we should feed the world’s population. One way that seems to offer a way to increase food production is genetic engineering. However, this has been subject of debates all over the world, not just here in Britain. This debate is also a heated one here in Europe, where grain production is still well over capacity and huge amounts of grain get burned within the European Union each year, since an export to poorer countries would be more expensive.

The University of Cambridge has collected research articles and comments on these issues and published them online. The new articles can also be found in the latest issue of the University’s research magazine, Research Horizons.

Some research the university has collected reports about projects to develop influenza-resistant strains of poultry or schemes that optimise soil usage whilst keeping natural biodiversity intact. Other research focuses on understanding better how certain plants live together in symbiosis with other plants or microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses in order to understand how to optimise plant growth and thus yield.

Meanwhile, economists and conservationists all over the world try to improve the current geopolitical situations to enable a better supply of food around the world and the international community starts addressing issues such as food and water supply on a global scale.

Professor Chris Gilligan, Head of the University’s School of Biological Sciences said: “Global food security is one of the major challenges that we face in the 21st century. For the University of Cambridge, this is both a challenge and an opportunity to focus and integrate our remarkable research expertise in the natural, clinical and social sciences, coupled with the humanities, to develop tractable solutions for global food security. These must be sustainable, socially equitable and ecologically successful – the so-called ‘doubly-green revolution’.”

Recently, City Connect Features Writer Jan Haley reported on permaculture as a solution to today’s food problems. Read more here: Permaculture brings harmony to life and Transition here before it is too late. We are looking forward to see what our readers think about all of these suggestions and if they come up with other suggestions and solutions.

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