The issue of human food has always been at the root of our social existence. If, in addition to the eight billion humans to be fed, we count the farm animals (80 billion chickens, turkeys and ducks, 3 billion pigs, oxen, buffaloes and cows, etc.) that must also be fed with grain and fodder and to which we add the resources taken from the sea (1,200 billion wild fish caught per year), the pressure exerted on the environment for our food alone calls for a rapid change of regime because it is already unsustainable.
What is the world of education and research doing to encourage a change in habits practices?
In vitro meat is making investors salivate, but from the point of view of yield and cost, we have much better chances on the side of plants, insects and better management of harvesting, transformation and distribution practices. It is known that the strategic preservation of bio-diverse environments serves as a sustainable foundation for the surrounding harvesting environments. But if all environments are allowed to be exploited, everything falls apart. The same is true in agriculture: maximum yields boosted by fertilizers, GMO plants, pesticides and intensive irrigation deplete environments. More integrated approaches promote healthy ecosystems.
Industrial-scale meat production is problematic on every level. Industrial production of palm oil, bananas, avocados, coffee, and cocoa is not compatible with the balance of tropical environments. The detour of cereal production to produce ethanol for cars is a real aberration, even though it is presented as "ecological" and shows the level of cynicism of the hydrocarbon industry, which is heavily subsidized. Industrial fishing is destroying everything. In fact, just about every "industrial" approach to life is disrupting it. Biological diversity is not well suited to practices that aim at standardization and large numbers. Will robotics and artificial intelligence help us or will they make the situation worse?
Our machines do not fertilize the soil as ruminants did, synthetic fertilizers do and they also "enrich" our waterways. This is only one of our questionable practices. Food waste is another one. In short, we can change all our practices and habits of food production and consumption. Research and education have a role to play in this, starting with school cafeterias, school vegetable gardens, and agriculture faculties.
Denys Lamontagne - [email protected]
DepositPhotos Illustration - VadimVasenin