Microbes in the food system
On 29th July, humanity had used up all the natural resources which the earth can renew in the year 2019 (1). These resources include foods that feed a growing world population of which over 800 million people are undernourished and over 2 billion of people are overweight or obese (2). To meet the environmental and health challenges of the 21st century, the food system in its entirety will need to be considered to find a solution. Microbial communities within the food system are omni-present and are drivers of productivity and health of soil, plant, animals (terrestrial and aquatic) and people (3). Hence, microbially derived applications have the potential to contribute significantly to the much-needed transformation of our food system.
WHY DO WE NEED TO CHANGE THE FOOD SYSTEM?
The current food system is unable to meet the increasing demand for nutritious, safe and sustainable food (4). Various international and national organisations and governments have recognised the need for a transformation of the food system and have provided suggestions on how to do so at different levels. For instance,
- The UN Collaborative Framework for Food Systems Transformation emphasises the need for a collaborative approach for policy-making and implementation (5);
- The European Commission’s FOOD 2030 policy initiative recommends a system-wide approach for transformation (4);
- The EAT Lancet Commission suggests a largely plant-based diet for all (6);
- IPES Food recommends a common food policy for the EU (7);
- Scientists suggest an alignment with the Sustainable Development Goals (8).
The general consensus is to transform the food system in an inclusive, resource-efficient and sustainable manner whilst providing healthy and nutritious foods to all.
WHY FOCUS ON MICROBIOME ... ... ...