Algae, larvae, protein derived from fungi, spirulina or chlorella are some of the “foods of the future” that must be cultivated on a large scale to combat malnutrition globally, as recommended by a study from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
The research, published Thursday and published in the scientific journal Nature Food, defended the need for radical changes in the food production system to ensure supply for the world’s population and combat malnutrition, in the face of climate change, environmental degradation, epidemics and disease scenarios.
After analyzing nearly 500 scientific articles published on different food production systems in the future, scientists stressed the importance of resorting to nutritious and more sustainable alternatives, based on plants and animals, compared to traditional foods.
The study notes that “our global food supply cannot be guaranteed in the future” through traditional approaches to improving food production, indicating the use of the latest controlled ecosystems to produce new foods that are less vulnerable to environmental impact or epidemics, that must be integrated into the food chain.
“Foods such as sugar algae, flies, earthworms and single-celled algae, such as chlorella, have the potential to provide healthy, risk-resistant meals that can combat malnutrition around the world,” said a researcher at the Center for the Study of Existential Risk. (CSER) from the University of Cambridge and first author of the report, Asaf Tzachor, cited it in a statement released today by the educational institution.
The researcher warned that our current food system is weak and exposed to risks such as floods, frosts, droughts and parasites, and warned that marginal improvements in productivity will not have an impact on the global scenario.
“For food that keeps pace with the future, we need to integrate completely new forms of agriculture into the current system,” says Assaf Tzakur.
Catherine Richards, PhD researcher at the Center for Existential Risk Studies and the Department of Engineering in Cambridge, stressed the importance of “diversifying our diet with these future foods” in order to “achieve food security for all.”
“Technological advances open up many possibilities for alternative food supply systems, which are more risk-resistant and can efficiently provide sustainable nutrition for billions of people,” said Kathryn Richards, who was cited in the same note.
According to the researchers, reservations about eating new foods, such as insects, can be overcome by using them as ingredients rather than eating them whole, whether in pasta, hamburgers or energy bars – examples that could contain ground insect larvae and micro-algae and processed. .
Scientists participating in the study said that global malnutrition could be eliminated by growing foods including spirulina, chlorella and insect larvae, such as house fly, fungal protein (a protein derived from fungi) and macroalgae, such as sugar algae.
The production of this “food of the future” can change the way food systems work, as they can be grown to expand into modular, compact systems suitable for both urban settings and isolated societies.
The researchers argue that it is possible to produce these foods locally, reducing dependence on global supply chains, using new methods, such as photobioreactors for microalgae (devices that use a light source for the development of microorganisms) or greenhouses for raising insects, reducing exposure to environmental hazards. Natural cultivation through closed and controlled environments.
The study authors also shed light on environmental challenges facing food systems, taking, for example, fires and droughts in North America, outbreaks of African swine fever affecting swine in Asia and Europe, and desert locust swarms in East Africa.
A statement issued by the University of Cambridge warns that “climate change is expected to exacerbate these threats.”
Currently, 2 billion people are food insecure, including more than 690 million people suffering from malnutrition and 340 million children suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, according to the same note.
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