Documents to download

Food security – where all people at all times have access to safe, sufficient and nutritious food – is a global priority. Food security is multifaceted, incorporating issues of production, distribution, stability, dietary preference and economic access. Although the transition to a secure and sustainable food system will require reducing food waste and influencing consumer behaviour, global food production may also need to increase. Projections suggest it may need to increase by 60% between 2007 and 2050 to meet the demand of a growing population. This will be challenging as agricultural productivity is being restricted by the increase in water scarcity (POSTnote 385), the availability and cost of mineral phosphate for fertilisers (POSTnote 477), the widespread decline in soil fertility, the limited land remaining for cultivation, and the impacts of climate change.

This POSTnote summarises three key areas of current food production innovation, controlled-environment farming, alternative animal feeds and novel protein sources, which could contribute to a more sustainable food system:

  • Controlled-environment farming can increase the yield of some crops and decrease resource use, but is not suited to staple crops like maize and wheat.
  • Sustainable sources of animal feed such as insects and algae could reduce the dependence on feed derived from wild fish or soy from tropical rain forest areas.
  • For humans, edible insects are a nutritious and resource efficient food source, but cultural aversion to insects as food may be a significant barrier.
  • Lab-cultured meat could provide a resource-efficient alternative protein source, but must overcome multiple technical challenges.
  • If novel food products are to be accepted by the public, their development should consider societal preferences and behaviours.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • Large-scale woodland creation is being promoted internationally to mitigate climate change. It can also supply other benefits, such as improving biodiversity, air and water quality. This POSTnote summarises key factors influencing how much carbon is taken up by woodland, the different objectives of woodland creation, constraints to increasing UK tree cover and different finance options.

  • POST has published 20 COVID-19 Areas of Research Interest (ARIs) for the UK Parliament. ARIs were identified using the input of over 1,000 experts. They were then ranked in order of interest to UK Parliament research and select committee staff, following internal feedback. Each ARI comes with a series of questions aiming to further break down each broad area. The ARIs focus on the impacts of the global pandemic and range from economic recovery and growth, to surveillance and data collection, long-term mental health effects, education, vaccine development, and the NHS.

  • Evolving life sciences and agricultural research approaches may have a decreasing need to access physical resources in future, such as plant seeds or viral material. Information and genetic data may be all that is required for commercial exploitation of biological resources. This POSTnote summarises the challenge this creates for international discussions on the governance of genetic resources and the possible options for addressing these.