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Game-changing technologies to transform our food systems

A pipeline of disruptive technologies could transform our food systems, ecosystems and human health, but attention to the enabling environment is needed to realize their potential

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WAGENINGEN, THE NETHERLANDS (25 March 2020) – In the next three decades we will need a 30–70% increase in food availability to meet the demand from an increasing population. And the global food system will need to change profoundly if it is going to provide humanity with healthy food that is grown sustainably in ways that are not only resilient in the face of climate change but also do not surpass planetary boundaries.

Research to date on the future of our food systems has largely focused on incremental changes possible with existing technologies. But even that research finds that incremental change will not be enough—we must radically transform our food systems. Prompted by a conversation with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a new study in Nature Food led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) offers insights into some disruptive, game-changing technologies that could make the difference for both people and the planet, and the social change needed to realize their potential.

Investigating 75 emerging technologies, the study’s authors identify an arsenal of highly promising options, many of them ready or near-ready. Their shortlist comprises technologies that not only contribute to a host of Sustainable Development Goals—climate action, reducing environmental impact, reducing poverty, healthy food—but can also be tailored to a range of institutional and political contexts. The diverse pipeline spans the entire food value chain, from production and processing to consumption and waste management…

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