Insights & expertise

Life after lockdown: Food security

New ways to feed the world

As with any crisis or timely situation, supply chains become stretched and tested, and often show the limitations of any country’s or region’s ability to cope with the challenges.

Food security, like energy, is a universal issue. Long-term famine has affected large parts of the developing world for generations, with the increasingly damaging impact of climate change-associated drought well understood, but the COVID-19 pandemic also identified shortcomings in more developed countries’ reliance on long chains or big, international suppliers.

Should food production be brought ‘in-house’ in more countries? Would any country or region be able to grow and produce sufficient amounts of food for the local population sustainably? And how will consumers’ habits change according to the availability, or lack of, their favourite foods and meals?

Check out our specific overview of the importance of looking after the environment through a variety of means, including improved food production methods and efficiency savings.

Significant socio-political challenges in farming

There are a huge range of politically-sensitive concerns around this topic – not least around the associated water supply – while there are also a number of potential technology and science solutions. From increasing yield or reducing the spread of disease through a change in farming methods or materials, to altering the way we look at manufacturing, production and distribution centres along the chain, processes can be made more effective.

Take, for example, reducing food waste in the first place, meaning less needs to be produced and populations can be more efficiently kept fed, as is the potential with sensing technology such as the spray solution for food freshness developed by FreshCheck.

However, there may be associated costs that could look like wastage on a company’s balance sheet. But can any country or Government put a real value on ensuring the food security of the people for whom they are responsible?

We have a moral, as well as practical, responsibility to consider the role and impacts of the food system. – from the UK Government report, Developing a national food strategy

 

Bio-F Solutions

Sustainable, organic fertiliser, that produces a high yield in an environmentally sensitive manner. Currently working with Abel & Cole farmers.

Public health at risk

New farming policies should incentivise growing fruit and vegetables for local markets, both for economic sustainability and for public health requirements:

FungiAlert

Get real-time analysis and predictions from field sensors about the spread of dangerous fungi in farmland

Find out how Imperial can help you with your specific needs be they immediate or a longer term goal.

Multus Media

Lab-grown food is currently expensive to produce, but student startup Multus Media could help reduce those costs and make the industry more impactful sooner.

Insect based pet food

Insects will increasingly form part of our diets as a sustainable source of protein, and our alumni have already got cracking with this in the pet food market.

The food system is sick

Professor Paolo Vineis, Chair of Environmental Epidemiology at Imperial’s School of Public Health, blogs on why the food system must be reformed to prevent future pandemics.

Latest news + insights

Energising Britain

Energising Britain

New technologies are transforming the way we live and work. They are changing businesses and communities and creating huge opportunities to improve our quality of life, and ... read more

The science behind Sci-Fi

The science behind Sci-Fi

When Left Bank Pictures (producers of The Crown and Lost) were looking for someone to give their Sci-fi adventure, ORIGIN, a touch of realism - they called upon Imperial ... read more

Gravity-based energy storage could prove a cheaper option

Gravity-based energy storage could prove a cheaper option

Imperial researchers predict that gravity-fed energy storage systems may provide long-term savings - and analysis suggests that technology from Gravitricity is well suited to ... read more

Case studies

Putting science into Sci-Fi

Putting science into Sci-Fi

When Left Bank Pictures (producers of The Crown and Lost) were looking for someone to give their Sci fi adventure, ORIGIN, a touch of realism - they called upon Imperial ... read more

Informing the debate on Britain’s electricity system

Informing the debate on Britain’s electricity system

The electricity sector is currently undergoing unprecedented changes, including obligations to decarbonise and pressure to keep bills down. With old coal being driven off the ... read more

Bio-Inspired Aerial Robotics

Bio-Inspired Aerial Robotics

Dr Mirko Kovac is Director of the Aerial Robotics Laboratory at Imperial College London, and Senior Lecturer in Aero-structures. His research focuses on the development of ... read more