Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Artificial meat 'made in a giant vat' could solve global food shortage

Artificial meat “made in a giant vat” could be the best solution to the problems of feeding the world’s growing population, scientists said.

Artificial meat 'made in a giant vat' could solve global food shortage Photo: ALAMY By Andy Bloxham 8:28AM BST 16 Aug 2010

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Over 9 billion people are expected to inhabit the planet by 2050 and the challenge of providing them with enough food to live without destroying the environment is increasingly tough.

Dr Philip Thornton, of the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, said: “One [solution] is artificial meat, which is made in a giant vat.”

He added that another could be the use of nanotechnology, or molecular engineering, to deliver medication to livestock, which could increase their efficiency.

The Bogus $1 Million Meat Prize

Why PETA's artificial chicken contest is nothing but a publicity stunt.

By Daniel Engber

Posted Wednesday, April 23, 2008, at 7:12 AM ET

Read William Saletan's "Human Nature" column on the fake meat prize.

Fake chicken could now be worth $1 million. In the last few days, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals announced that it will present a $1 million prize to anyone who can demonstrate a major breakthrough in the technology of lab-grown meat: Contestants have until 2012 to produce a commercially viable, in vitro chicken substitute that tastes just like the real thing

Other answers put forward were: increased yields from plants due to higher levels of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere on which they feed; genetic modification; lowering food waste by encouraging people only to buy what they will use; or by developing food technology so agriculture produces less greenhouse gases.

However, some scientists warned that progress could be hindered by the amounts of information being controlled by some big multinationals in the sector, such as Monsanto

The X-Poultry Prize has already generated high expectations. In its press release, PETA suggests that in vitro farms will spare the "more than 40 billion chickens, fish, pigs, and cows" that are killed every year in the United States. My colleague William Saletan promised Slate readers that "animals were only the first incarnation of meat. Get ready for the second." I'm not so bullish. We might be eating test-tube McNuggets at some point in the next 10 or 20 years, but it's hard to see how PETA's $1 million will help to get us there.

Related in Slate

Catherine Rampell wondered whether we should junk the patent system in favor of science prizes all around. Steven E. Landsburg proposed that the government buy out certain patents and place inventions in the public domain. Chris Suellentrop explained whether you can patent a life form, and Brendan I. Koerner explored whether you can patent the Internet.To understand why, let's back up and think about what a science prize is supposed to do. In theory, a cash incentive encourages private companies to pursue research that doesn't have a clear financial reward. For example, a pharmaceutical company might not have much reason to invest in treating a disease of the developing world, like malaria. A patent on a malaria vaccine would be a great boon for global health, but it wouldn't be worth that much money since the people who need it most can't afford to pay

Science prizes can also encourage intermediate breakthroughs that don't have an immediate commercial application. The Orteig Prize offered $25,000 to anyone who could fly nonstop from New York to Paris. The commercial aviation industry would eventually be worth hundreds of billions of dollars, but when Charles Lindbergh made the trip in 1927, the prize itself was the payoff.

So what's wrong with the PETA prize? You need to sell your product in order to win. According to the contest guidelines (PDF), the million-dollar meat must be available in stores to qualify for the cash. Fake-chicken entrepreneurs have to demonstrate a "commercial sales minimum" at a "comparable market price"; in plain English, they need to move 2,000 pounds of the stuff at supermarkets and chain restaurants spread out across 10 states during a period of three months. And the Franken-meat can't cost more than regular chicken.

That means PETA won't be content with any intermediate (and not immediately profitable) breakthrough, like the development of lab-grown chicken that tastes as good as the natural stuff. Instead, the organization will hold the purse until a "commercially viable" product hits the market. In other words, you can't win the $1 million unless you're already in position to make a profit. At that point, a science prize doesn't provide much incentive for innovation. It's more like a small bonus.

To make matters worse, PETA's commercial requirements saddle researchers with demands that have nothing to do with science. Any company that wants to sell artificial chicken for public consumption will probably face a lengthy government-review process. Consider that it took five years for the Food and Drug Administration to approve the sale of cloned meat. Let's say you invented a perfect chicken substitute tomorrow—something so delicious and inexpensive that it could go into production right away. Even then, you still might not make the PETA deadline for supermarket sales.

By comparison, the contests sponsored by the X Prize Foundation have no such requirements. To win the Google Lunar X Prize, a team of engineers must put a robot on the moon. They don't need to put it on sale in the Hammacher Schlemmer catalog. The Progressive Automotive X Prize, announced last month, will go to the developers of a car that gets more than 100 miles per gallon. They must also demonstrate that their car is "production capable"—i.e., that it won't cost much more than $75,000 to make one—and they need to "articulate clear and viable business cases for bringing their vehicles to market." But they don't have to start selling them at the local dealership.

The PETA prize may turn out to be a minor boon for lab-meat research, insofar as it generates publicity for the project. (When everyone starts talking about artificial chicken, private investors will take notice.) But it's hard to imagine that the $1 million will itself provide much incentive. As a science prize, it just feels a little fake.

Artificial meat would be a preferable alternative to the cruelty and environmental impact of factory farms

Technology is rapidly emerging that will allow scientists to grow artificial meat for human consumption. Yes, this will be just like meat at a molecular level, except it won't come from an animal. It will come from a factory where it was grown cell by cell on a lattice structure using some advanced technology. This article is about the implications about such technology in terms of society, public health, ethical treatment of animals, and other such topics. But let me begin it by saying up front that I cautiously support the artificial growing of meat for a number of (possibly surprising) reasons that I will detail here.

First of all, let me state that my diet currently consists of very little meat. I don't believe in eating animals for their flesh. I don't believe in raising animals and slaughtering them just because their muscle tissue is something I want to consume casually at a Friday barbecue. I think it's highly unethical to treat animals as life-support systems for meat, which is really the way most people look at a cow -- it's just there to support the growth of the meat. There's no consideration whatsoever for the experience of the cow which is, of course, a living, breathing being with a consciousness. Cows have memory, emotions and even their own family members. I don't think it is appropriate in any advanced civilization to be raising and slaughtering animals to consume their meat. It's a rather barbaric practice.

That's one reason why I support the artificial meat idea, because if we can create meat and make it available to consumers without having to kill animals in the process, then we are in fact doing far less harm to the world. We're causing less suffering. We are not putting these animals through the experience of being enslaved in a system with the sole purpose of turning their body into a food source and, ultimately, a profit source. Let's face it -- that's what cattle ranching and pig farming and chicken farming is today. It's a system of exploiting the lives of these animals in order to make a profit. So if artificial meat can replace that, that's an important benefit. Let consumers eat meat without having to kill animals.

Health implications of artificial meat

The second reason I am strongly in support of artificial meat is because I believe that this artificial meat will actually be healthier for people than commercially grown and produced meat, because commercially produced meat comes from cows that are subjected to an assault of various chemicals. They are injected with antibiotics and hormones; they are fed grain that's been sprayed with pesticides and sometimes grown in soils laced with heavy metals. There are Polychlorinated Biphenyls, rocket fuel, and all kinds of other contaminants found in the fat cells of animals that have been raised for food.

So, if you take a cow, pig or chicken and you look at the way it's treated in a commercial ranching or farming environment, you'll find that it's a very unhealthy food source, because it has consumed and concentrated all of these toxic chemicals. When a human being consumes that meat, those toxic chemicals are ingested into that human's body, where they function as cancer-causing chemicals, liver-damaging or hormone-disrupting chemicals. By utilizing artificial meat you can consume meat that, even though it's synthetic and based on chemicals, at least won't have the concentration of heavy metals, pesticides, antibiotics and all these other terrible chemicals that cows are forced to consume.

Artificial meat could end up being healthier for people than real meat. Before you think I've gone crazy, let me explain a little further. No meat, in my opinion, is actually healthy if consumed in large quantities. There are a number of reasons for that, including the fact that meat has no fiber. It putrefies in the digestive tract and is strongly correlated with the onset of pancreatic cancer, breast cancer, colon cancer and bladder cancer. We know meat isn't good for you in the quantities consumed by Americans today. I'm not saying that artificial meat will be good for you, either, but it won't be as bad for you as commercially raised meat.

The other point here is that there is such a thing as healthy, live meat from free-range animals. If you take an animal from a natural environment, fed raw plants, raw grasses, live foods, without it being subjected to antibiotics and hormones or inhumane methods of slaughter, that meat will be much healthier for you than traditionally raised beef. Still, there's no denying that this is a terrible experience for the animal. The animal is still being killed and eaten. This is not the kind of experience that any of us would wish to endure, and yet we require this of other animals so that we may feed ourselves in a mindless way the foods that we prefer to consume.

To summarize, the least healthy meat of all is commercially raised meat -- non-organic, non-free range, factory meat products. Healthier than that would be of course free-range meat, kosher-certified meat, and along the lines of similar health would be artificial meat. None of these meats, as I have stated, are in fact good for you if consumed in large quantities. I believe that meat is not necessary for the human diet, except perhaps in the case of pregnant women who need extra iron and protein. In that case, the meat serves as a very high density protein and iron source that cannot be replicated from the plant world (iron from plants is molecularly different than iron from meats). But with prenatal nutrition, it's doubly important to have organic, free-range meat that's not contaminated with pesticides and heavy metals.

Meat consumption harms the planet

There are tremendous implications resulting from the mass consumption of meat products by the American population, such as the fact that it takes 10 times as much land to create meat protein as it does similar quantities of protein from vegetables. We're also seeing the clear-cutting of rain forests, in the Amazon especially, in order to create grazing land for cattle.

The decision to eat meat is not a solely personal decision. It doesn't just affect you. It actually affects the planet. The more meat you consume, the more land is used for meat raising and harvesting. In the case of the Amazon rainforest, it means there's less land available to support natural rain forest habitat, which is, of course, important for the oxygen production of the entire planet. So, in a very understandable way, the mass consumption of red meat around this planet actually affects the climate of the planet. Global climate change is one side effects of massive meat consumption.

If we were to switch over to a system of generating artificial meat, then the climate effect of this meat production would be drastically reduced. There still may be some industrial runoff or some kind of post-production chemicals that need to be dealt with after creating artificial meat, but undoubtedly these would be far less harmful to the planet than the clear-cutting of rain forest, injecting cows with hormones and antibiotics and raising crops with pesticides so that cows can be fed in a very inefficient food production system.

So artificial meat, even though it may sound strange, could actually be better for the planet if people continue to consume meat. Now what would be best for the planet -- and actually best for the health of individuals, families and entire nations -- would be of course to move away from a meat-centered diet. If we could get people to eat half the meat they currently consume, we would see far lower rates of heart disease, all varieties of cancers, and less obesity as well. Even though the long-term solution is to move to a plant-based diet, as a civilization, a short-term solution could include artificial meat.

Many benefits from a plant-based diet

I have probably eaten more than my share of meat for my entire life already. When I was growing up, my grandfather was a cattle rancher, so we got all the free meat we ever wanted and I ate meat constantly. I have now mostly given up meat (and red meat entirely), but I don't believe in aggressively pushing vegetarianism onto others. I simply have arrived at the obvious conclusion that there's nothing better for the human body, mind and spirit than food based on plants.

If you eat nothing but a plant-based diet, you will be far healthier than if you were to introduce any amount of meat into your diet. All the information out there about people having nutritional deficiencies on a vegetarian diet is misguided and flat-out wrong. Unless, of course, for people are living on what I call a "junk food vegetarian diet," which is soda, chips and vegetarian processed food. Of course that diet causes nutritional deficiencies. But not a health-minded vegetarian diet. Even vitamin B12 is simple to get in sufficient quantities if you put your mind to it.

As a society, we can exist quite comfortably on a plant-based diet. We can get everything we need in terms of nutrition -- including essential oils, vitamins, minerals and the like -- on a plant-based diet. We do not need meat to survive as a civilization. In fact, I believe that the mass consumption of meat devolves our society, because it makes us more angry and aggressive. It makes us less humane and is an uncivilized way to use the resources of the planet to support the human population, whereas consuming and surviving on plants is an evolved and intelligent way to feed the planet. If you consume mostly raw foods, then you also get outstanding nutrition. Cooking food destroys much of its nutritional content -- not only the proteins, but also the vitamins and the phytonutrients that make plants such a potent nutrition source in the first place.

If you can avoid cooking some of these foods, and subsist at least partially on a live foods diet -- as I have been doing now for some time -- you find that you need a lot less food, get much better nutrition, and don't really need any meat. That includes even very active lifestyles like my own, which involve strength training, Pilates, lots of running, martial arts and cycling.

The bottom line is that I am a cautious supporter of this idea of artificial meat production because of the practicalities involved. People will continue to consume meat on the planet for the time being. If that is the case, then I believe that we are much better off having people consume artificial meat than tearing the flesh from living, breathing beings and calling that dinner. Artificial meat has my vote even though, personally, I would never touch it with a fork. I support it only because it is a practical alternative to meat taken from live animals


The days when the human population ate all natural ingredients are long gone. Most foodstuffs we consume these days contain additives, preservatives, or other such chemically produced substances for reasons of taste, longevity, or cost. And soon all our food could be artificially engineered, including animal meat.

One of the ever-popular fad diets around now consists of eating food we’d have consumed thousands of years ago. So, nuts, beans, pulses, fruit, and vegetables are eaten in place of the chemically enhanced garbage many of us shove down our throats currently. Unfortunately, the human race is moving ever further away from that kind of diet, with science increasingly being turned to.

The latest move towards an artificially produced diet has now occurred in a laboratory in the Netherlands. According to The Times, Dutch scientists have grown a form of meat artificially for the first time. The meat has been described as “soggy pork” and in its current state isn’t going to turning up on the menu at your favorite restaurant. But it may do in the near future.

The researchers extracted cells from the muscle of a live pig and incubated them in an animal product broth. The cells then multiplied to create muscle tissue. At the moment the result is a sticky substance that would need exercising like normal muscle to turn it into a meat we could recognize.

Mark Post, professor of physiology at Eindhoven University, the man leading the experiments, said

You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals. What we have at the moment is rather like wasted muscle tissue. We need to find ways of improving it by training it and stretching it, but we will get there. This product will be good for the environment and will reduce animal suffering. If it feels and tastes like meat, people will buy it.

If it’s cheap then yes, they probably will, and it could be on sale within five years. However, the idea of eating artificially created meat isn’t exactly setting my taste buds on edge at this point. Then again, the sheer number of advantages by growing meat rather than breeding animals to slaughter for meat means the idea should definitely be considered.

Artificial meat would cut greenhouse gases and help the environment, animals would no longer be treated inhumanely and grown purely for food, and the lessening of livestock would free up the considerable amount of land they currently take up being farmed. Hell, even vegetarians are for the idea assuming the process was properly governed. The Vegetarian Society said:

The big question is how could you guarantee you were eating artificial flesh rather than flesh from an animal that had been slaughtered. It would be very difficult to label and identify in a way that people would trust.

Part of me thinks we should leave nature well alone but the advantages tell me otherwise. It all comes down to whether artificial meat will ever be accepted both in terms of taste and ethics. If so then farming could be about to be revolutionized

Fake Meat Update, or lack of

A few months ago, the Taiwanese government reportedly performed spot checks on several fake-meat "vendors" (whatever that means) and found that over half contained real animal products. Follow-up tests and investigations were promised, but have not been released or reported on so far.

While it made the briefly section in Taiwan's largest English (and in my opinion best) newspaper, the Taipei Times, and the Taiwan News (another good paper), it created somewhat of a stir in vegan circles around the world, as much if not most of the world's fake meat is made here in Taiwan. Anyone who ate fake meats at Chinese vegetarian restaurants (most of which are in fact Taiwanese, no Chinese), had to wonder whether the too-good-to-be-true fake meat actually was.

If it really was over 50%, we could expect the Buddhist population in Taiwan to be up in (peaceful) arms about it, however, no such reaction has been noticed. Then again, most of Taiwanese vegetarian dining population are not actually vegetarian, but simply eat at vegetarian restaurants at certain times, as dictated by their local customs and religions. It may be that these "vendors" were all non-vegetarian suppliers, and that food at Buddhist restaurants, if made by Buddhist companies, is safe. There is really not enough information to draw any conclusions, but certainly enough for concern.

Though I have been unable to get to the bottom of it, I have paid much more attention to the ingredients of fake meat in grocery stores. The majority contains milk (in fitting with the fact that Buddhists eat dairy products) and some contains egg (because the I Kuan Tao religion also eat egg products). It also often contains many less than healthy ingredients. It should not really be surprising that dairy, usually whey (or whey protein) is added to soy products meant to have the taste and texture of animal flesh. I highly doubt that many, if any, Chinese/Taiwanese vegetarian resaurants which promise "we use no dairy or egg" check the ingredients of their fake meat for whey. Buddhist-run restaurants probably will check the ingredients for egg, however.

One highly trustworthy exception to this rule is again, the wonderful followers of the "Supreme Master" Ching Hai, in particular their Loving Huts (website in Chinese only, but see my article on the chain here). Her followers (should that be devotees?) are strictly vegan (or fast going vegan) and owners of Loving Hutts are meticulous about checking that their ingredients are vegan.

So, in the absence of any real conclusion, but given that business in Taiwan is less than honest, most people eating vegetarian at any given time are not vegetarian themselves (all the time) and very few are vegan, I do not recommend eating fake meat from unknown sources in Taiwan (or eating anything from China at all). In Taiwan, I usually only eat fake meat at restaurants run by Ching Hai followers. For vegans abroad, inconvenient though this may be, I would not recommend eating any imported fake meats from Asia at all, and instead sticking to ones made by local veg'n companies, unless it is at a restaurant run by Ching Hai followers. Sadly, that sweet-and-sour Chicken you've been eating at your local Chinese vegetarian restaurant probably contains whey, and might just contain a little chicken, too.Vegetarian shark fin soup anyone?

Artificial Meat Could Be Grown on a Large Scale

by Fraser Cain on July 6, 2005

A magnified view of muscle fibres. Image credit: UM. Click to enlarge.

Experiments for NASA space missions have shown that small amounts of edible meat can be created in a lab. But the technology that could grow chicken nuggets without the chicken, on a large scale, may not be just a science fiction fantasy.

In a paper in the June 29 issue of Tissue Engineering, a team of scientists, including University of Maryland doctoral student Jason Matheny, propose two new techniques of tissue engineering that may one day lead to affordable production of in vitro – lab grown — meat for human consumption. It is the first peer-reviewed discussion of the prospects for industrial production of cultured meat.

“There would be a lot of benefits from cultured meat,” says Matheny, who studies agricultural economics and public health. “For one thing, you could control the nutrients. For example, most meats are high in the fatty acid Omega 6, which can cause high cholesterol and other health problems. With in vitro meat, you could replace that with Omega 3, which is a healthy fat.

“Cultured meat could also reduce the pollution that results from raising livestock, and you wouldn’t need the drugs that are used on animals raised for meat.”

Prime Without the Rib

The idea of culturing meat is to create an edible product that tastes like cuts of beef, poultry, pork, lamb or fish and has the nutrients and texture of meat.

Scientists know that a single muscle cell from a cow or chicken can be isolated and divided into thousands of new muscle cells. Experiments with fish tissue have created small amounts of in vitro meat in NASA experiments researching potential food products for long-term space travel, where storage is a problem.

“But that was a single experiment and was geared toward a special situation – space travel,” says Matheny. “We need a different approach for large scale production.”

Matheny’s team developed ideas for two techniques that have potential for large scale meat production. One is to grow the cells in large flat sheets on thin membranes. The sheets of meat would be grown and stretched, then removed from the membranes and stacked on top of one another to increase thickness.

The other method would be to grow the muscle cells on small three-dimensional beads that stretch with small changes in temperature. The mature cells could then be harvested and turned into a processed meat, like nuggets or hamburgers.

Treadmill Meat

To grow meat on a large scale, cells from several different kinds of tissue, including muscle and fat, would be needed to give the meat the texture to appeal to the human palate.

“The challenge is getting the texture right,” says Matheny. “We have to figure out how to ‘exercise’ the muscle cells. For the right texture, you have to stretch the tissue, like a live animal would.”

Where’s the Beef?

And, the authors agree, it might take work to convince consumers to eat cultured muscle meat, a product not yet associated with being produced artificially.

“On the other hand, cultured meat could appeal to people concerned about food safety, the environment, and animal welfare, and people who want to tailor food to their individual tastes,” says Matheny. The paper even suggests that meat makers may one day sit next to bread makers on the kitchen counter.

“The benefits could be enormous,” Matheny says. “The demand for meat is increasing world wide — China ‘s meat demand is doubling every ten years. Poultry consumption in India has doubled in the last five years.

“With a single cell, you could theoretically produce the world’s annual meat supply. And you could do it in a way that’s better for the environment and human health. In the long term, this is a very feasible idea.”

Matheny saw so many advantages in the idea that he joined several other scientists in starting a nonprofit, New Harvest, to advance the technology. One of these scientists, Henk Haagsman, Professor of Meat Science at Utrecht University, received a grant from the Dutch government to produce cultured meat, as part of a national initiative to reduce the environmental impact of food production.

Other authors of the paper are Pieter Edelman of Wageningen University , Netherlands ; Douglas McFarland, South Dakota State University ; and Vladimir Mironov, Medical University of South Carolina.

Original Source: UM News Release

Article history

A sea of shoppers and vendors in Lagos, Nigeria. With the world population forecast to hit 9 billion people by 2050 novel ways to increase food production will be needed, say scientists. Photograph: James Marshall/Corbis

Artificial meat grown in vats may be needed if the 9 billion people expected to be alive in 2050 are to be adequately fed without destroying the earth, some of the world's leading scientists report today.

But a major academic assessment of future global food supplies, led by John Beddington, the UK government chief scientist, suggests that even with new technologies such as genetic modification and nanotechnology, hundreds of millions of people may still go hungry owing to a combination of climate change, water shortages and increasing food consumption.

In a set of 21 papers published by the Royal Society, the scientists from many disciplines and countries say that little more land is available for food production, but add that the challenge of increasing global food supplies by as much as 70% in the next 40 years is not insurmountable.

Although more than one in seven people do not have enough protein and energy in their diet today, many of the papers are optimistic.

A team of scientists at Rothamsted, the UK's largest agricultural research centre, suggests that extra carbon dioxide in the air from global warming, along with better fertilisers and chemicals to protect arable crops, could hugely increase yields and reduce water consumption.

"Plant breeders will probably be able to increase yields considerably in the CO2 enriched environments of the future … There is a large gap between achievable yields and those delivered ... but if this is closed then there is good prospect that crop production will increase by about 50% or more by 2050 without extra land", says the paper by Dr Keith Jaggard et al.

Several studies suggest farmers will be up against environmental limits by 2050, as industry and consumers compete for water. One group of US scientists suggests that feeding the 3 billion extra people could require twice as much water by then. This, says Professor Kenneth Strzepek of the University of Colorado, could mean an 18% reduction in worldwide water availability for food growing by 2050.

"The combined effect of these increasing demands can be dramatic in key hotspots [like] northern Africa, India, China and parts of Europe and the western US," he says.

Many low-tech ways are considered to effectively increase yields, such as reducing the 30-40% food waste that occurs both in rich and poor countries. If developing countries had better storage facilities and supermarkets and consumers in rich countries bought only what they needed, there would be far more food available.

But novel ways to increase food production will also be needed, say the scientists. Conventional animal breeding should be able to meet much of the anticipated doubling of demand for dairy and meat products in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but this may not be enough.

Instead, says Dr Philip Thornton, a scientist with the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, two "wild cards" could transform global meat and milk production. "One is artificial meat, which is made in a giant vat, and the other is nanotechnology, which is expected to become more important as a vehicle for delivering medication to livestock."

Others identify unexpected hindrances to producing more food. One of the gloomiest assessments comes from a team of British and South African economists who say that a vast effort must be made in agricultural research to create a new green revolution, but that seven multinational corporations, led by Monsanto, now dominate the global technology field.

"These companies are accumulating intellectual property to an extent that the public and international institutions are disadvantaged. This represents a threat to the global commons in agricultural technology on which the green revolution has depended," says the paper by Professor Jenifer Piesse at King's College, London.

"It is probably not possible to generate sufficient food output or incomes in much of sub-Saharan Africa to feed the population at all adequately … For least developed countries there are prospects of productivity growth but those with very little capacity will be disadvantaged."

Other papers suggest a radical rethink of global food production is needed to reduce its dependence on oil. Up to 70% of the energy needed to grow and supply food at present is fossil-fuel based which in turn contributes to climate change.

"The need for action is urgent given the time required for investment in research to deliver new technologies to those that need them and for political and social change to take place," says the paper by Beddington.

"Major advances can be achieved with the concerted application of current technologies and the importance of investing in research sooner rather than later to enable the food system to cope with challenges in the coming decades," says the paper led by the population biologist Charles Godfray of Oxford University.

The 21 papers published today in a special open access edition of the philosophical transactions of the are part of a UK government Foresight study on the future of the global food industry. The final report will be published later this year in advance of the UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico


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