Davos calls on tech to build sustainable food systems

29 January - Industry leaders and international businesses have called for sustainable investment and a focus on new technologies to ensure a global future for nutritious food.

Policy makers, businesses and agricultural experts gathered at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, held in Davos, Switzerland from January 21-24, to discuss the many elements which must come together to enable sustainable food systems.

Johan Rockström, Director of Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK), said at the ‘Feeding the planet for the future’ session, “If we continue with climate change it will impact both production and quality of food. Not only will yields go down but the quality of food will also go down.”

Agricultural ecosystems affected

Climate change has already begun affecting the volume and quality of food produced globally, with burning of fossil fuels, the melting of Arctic and Antarctic ice and the felling of forests disrupting the ecological systems vital for effective agriculture. 

“Currently 96% of the biomass on earth is livestock plus humans, with wildlife making up only 4%,” added Rockström.

He pointed to a more sustainable diet as part of the solution, sharing research that showed eating less meat and more plant protein could mean a healthier planet as well as a healthier population.

Tech and accelerated investment were also central themes with speakers emphasising the need to present farmers with a convincing business case for investing in more sustainable methods.

“The only way to deal with it [global food waste] is technology,” said Christine Moseley, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Full Harvest. “The agritech world has exploded in terms of innovation in everything from robotics to digital solutions.”

She went on to say that there is now data available which simply didn’t exist before, the harnessing of which could provide new avenues for sustainable food production.

Data driven solutions

Eagle Genomics’ e[datascientist] software platform focuses on harnessing microbiome data to produce solutions to some of the world’s biggest environmental and health challenges. The platform empowers scientists to effectively catalogue, curate and explore data, enabling them to spot connections and make discoveries which would otherwise slip beneath the radar due to the scale and volume of life sciences data.

Responding to the the key conclusions from the summit, Anthony Finbow, Chief Executive Officer at Eagle Genomics, said, “At Eagle we want our software solutions to improve lives. By revealing new insight from connections within the world’s life sciences data, our platform is enabling scientists to develop sustainable solutions, environmentally friendly alternatives and new agricultural approaches which are urgently needed at this time of global climate crisis.

We are already working with global companies and consortiums that are committed to addressing this issue across multiple industries including agritech, food and human health.”