We launch today a new, focused look at “The Future of Food” — the introduction and landing page to this new section of Hygeia is here.
A day rarely goes by without another article, or several, about some high-tech “solution” to one of the stubborn problems plaguing agriculture and our food system.
Some of the new technologies attracting a lot of venture capital — and ink — strike us as new technology looking for a profitable application, rather than a thoughtful, strategic response that gets at the roots of a persistent problem.
The diversity of new ideas and technologies in play is striking.
Check out, for example, the multiple, new sensor and artificial intelligence (AI) driven weed management tools: the ecoRobotix tool that uses AI sensors to recognize weeds and then sprays them with a micro-dose of targeted herbicide; Oz, the weeding robot and farmer assistant; and the Hyperweeder that uses a laser beam and heat, instead of herbicides, to zap weeds.
Too bad there is not equal investment in, and enthusiasm for highly promising, new Integrated Weed Management systems based on no-till plus cover crops.
For the next several months, The Future of Food will be largely U.S.-centric, and focus on:
- Weed management,
- How best to shift from unhealthy to healthy fats, and
- When, how, and for what purpose should the now-three major approaches to plant genetic improvement be deployed: conventional breeding, gene silencing/CRSPR et al., and biotech.
We won’t have all the answers, but do hope to contribute to the questions that should be asked, and at least tentatively answered, prior to embracing any new technology with the potential to shape the future of food.
No doubt we will often explore whether the needs of ever-larger corporations, and capital-in-need-of-a-return, is driving the future of food, or knowledge-based insights into the true roots of soil, plant, animal, human, ecosystem, and planetary health.
Day in and day out, life as we know it depends on how well society chooses among the myriad of choices that lie ahead. And so, our focus on some of the emerging technologies advanced in the hope of bringing about a “better” Future of Food.
Comments welcomed either here on Hygeia, or on our Facebook page, where there is more (mostly constructive) engagement. We also welcome suggestions for additional topics/technologies to explore down the road as we wonder together what is over the horizon for American agriculture.