February 28, 2024

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New Zealand Adopts Digital Technologies to Improve Food System Outcomes

Globally, biotech is promoting the use of plant-based foods and plant-based protein substitutes. There will also be the introduction of cell-based meats, as well as cellular agriculture. People are beginning to look at the molecular composition of foods in terms of human health: For instance, instead of simply cooking an egg, break it down into its constituent parts to create new textures or more functional proteins. There is also a movement toward using food as medicine, which recognises that everything humans consume is converted into molecules that affect the body, metabolism, and health.

Whereas New Zealand produces enough food to feed 40 million people worldwide – nearly ten times its own population – the way Aotearoa produces are changing, according to the executive director of BiotechNZ. All the additional food required by the world’s growing population over the next 25 years will come from improvements to current food systems before they reach capacity limits.

However, BioTechNZ and AgriTechNZ will host an event in Palmerston North to discuss cell-based agriculture, which can produce products from cell cultures rather than whole plants or animals. Kiwis in New Zealand can grow more food by improving current systems, reducing waste, and addressing environmental impacts. As per BiotechNZ’s executive director, Aotearoa is excellent at developing technologies that enable sustainable production.

“We can also amplify our impact by sharing our ability to translate technology for the benefit of the food systems around the world. Our agritech developments are incredible for the world. But it’s still insufficient to feed future populations. We need to look at new biotech solutions in our food systems if we are to provide in the future.” She added.

It is asserted that New Zealand’s innovators play an important role because there are real problems to solve, and our people have the necessary skills and experience. Cell-based culture protein is a young industry, and for the time being, primary research has focused on growing meats (beef, pork, poultry) as well as animal products (milk and egg white) in cell cultures.

It is predicted that the global population will be between nine and 11 billion people by 2050. By 2035, the shift to plant-based food would save as much carbon emission as Japan emits in a year and enough water to supply the city of London for 40 years.

Nevertheless, the food system must evolve to meet its increasing demands. The entire system is heavily taxed. People can get the proteins they need more quickly by using fermentation and other types of technology, which reduces costs, inputs, and environmental strains.

However, the rising global demand for meat and animal products shows that people are unwilling to switch from meat to plant-based alternatives. Rather than urging people to eat more plant-based diets, the next best option is to develop a better method of producing meat. That is precisely what cellular agriculture provides. Farmers and scientists are at the heart of the transformation, providing the tech means and the quality inputs needed.

Innovative digital technologies have the potential to have a significant positive impact across the food value chain. Precision agriculture, gene-editing, and biological-based crop protection are examples of innovations that can make food systems more resource-efficient and climate-resilient, as are technologies that improve traceability from farm to fork.

Digital technology adoption varies greatly across countries, with lower current rates in low-income countries. To increase its adoption in the food system, supply-side factors such as low rural network coverage and the availability of digital applications must be addressed, as well as demand-side factors such as the need for improved skills and knowledge, trust, affordability, and the absence of complementary investments.


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