Is artificial photosynthesis the next game changer for energy and food?
20 November, 2012
This conference on the role of science & technology in global food security learnt about potential scientific break-through during discussions about the advances and challenges of implementing science and technology into the food system.
Wednesday 17 – Friday 19 October 2012 (WP1189)
Global food security: the role of science and technology
The role of science and technology was the fourth in our series on Global food, land use and agriculture. Examples of the development and application of new science were highlighted with cases from India, Brazil and Africa amongst others. Discussion focused on the growing need for new crops to overcome drought and salinity including through the use of genetic modification. There was renewed interest in integrated farming systems.
The conference heard about the on-going research into artificial photosynthesis which could be a potential game changer for the production of energy and starch as a bulk food staple in coming decades.
The long timescales of 20 years for research to become commercial was one of many barriers identified, alongside development expense and patent protection. More research focus on minor crops to enhance biodiversity was recommended. Policy stability was called for to ensure a functional and fair market place the implementation of new science and better targeting of research to respond to market signals. Funding is critical and long-term designated funding pools were recommended. The linkage between scientists and those involved in the whole food-chain is critical to help shape on-going and future research.
The key message that came out of this conference is that there is plenty of science out there, but it is the application that is critical. It was remarked during the conference that invention is not innovation until is applied by farmers. The importance of communication and knowledge sharing was repeatedly brought up, and we hope that through creating this initial dialogue on the subject, communications and further dialogues will continue and spread amongst the scientific and farming communities.