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EditorialsUp Front 07/14

Up Front 07/14

The question of how to farm and feed the world is likely to keep active brains and debating tongues busy for far longer than most of us will live. We seem to be engaged in an unwinnable battle to know whether intensive food production or small organic farming is best for those in need of food, whilst at the same time sustaining the generations that may or may not survive us. When National Geographic magazine posed the question last month; ‘where will we find enough food for 9 billion people’ the author of the article explained that agriculture contributes more to global warming that any other industry. He pointed to the methane produced by cattle and rice farms, the nitrous oxide from fertilised fields and the carbon dioxide from levelling rain forest. He also pointed to agriculture’s consumption of water as another of the challenges faced by the need to feed such a huge population. However he concluded that there is a possible balance between intensive agriculture and small organic systems. He offered hope, which is often lacking when arguments become polarised. Recently delegates at the EuroScience Open Forum in Copenhagen were promised a taste of the first 3D printer produced sausage. It sounds like a barking mad idea but the food industry has been riding the crest of every wave of technological advance from bottling, canning and preserving to the preparation of nutritious mush for space travel, so why shouldn’t a computer design a meal and then, via a three dimensional printer, create it? It’s not so far-fetched. Millions of elderly people have problems consuming normal dishes and although special meals are already being produced they are not very appetising. It may soon be possible to recreate foods with the same look and shape as their original form and on the plate they could appear just like the original. There could be the option of normal texture or a ‘melt in the mouth’ experience for those with difficulties. Perhaps it’s a little way off and not a very appealing thought but without a massive change in our diet it may be part of our grandchildren’s future.    FB

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