Data from the UN show that, in mid-2021, the world's population was approximately 7.9 billion people. Roughly 83 million people are born every year, resulting in annual global population growth of 1.1%. According to the World Resources Institute, by 2050, the global population will reach 10 billion people. This may not seem like a massive increase over more than 25 years, but things are becoming significantly more complex with the rapidly-worsening climate and food crises.
The 26th Climate Change Conference in Glasgow discussed the same topic that had been discussed for the previous 25 years - how humanity has damaged the climate and how with our own hands we continue to harm the environment each day. Concerns for the earth's growing population, alongside the changes to the climate that will impair agricultural crop growth and food supply, are more pressing than ever. At the same time, the climate crisis has dramatically accelerated innovation in the food-tech and agro-tech industries to provide solutions to the public.
The solution lies with cultured foods
By 2050, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, global food consumption will grow by 56%, which means that there will be far more mouths to feed with far fewer land resources for growing food. On top of this, the unstable climate system will severely impact agricultural lands worldwide.
Let's take the dairy industry for example: did you know that 1,000 liters of water are required to produce a single liter of milk? With conventional milking methods, this industry won't maintain a sufficient supply of milk (or any of its derivative products) for long. The numbers are huge, and the challenge is substantial and consequential. However, we have the power and the opportunity to change the current situation for the better.
Cattle milk is one of our most reliable sources of protein, calcium, and overall wellbeing, but it accounts for 4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The dairy industry is one of the most polluting industries. It is in need of an immediate solution to render cattle barns obsolete, and thus drastically reduce air pollution and water use.
We are on the verge of a new, different era for human and animal lives. Unless we decide, as a society, to take the initiative and move things forward, we may find ourselves facing a global food shortage.
That said, we do see budding change - starting with the UN's commitments, through certain governments and non-government organizations, and individual and social efforts. I have always believed that change is possible when the different elements of society work together - public, private, and social. We are already witnessing clear examples of private entities working hard to find alternatives to current food production practices.
Different methods are being developed for producing meat, milk, eggs, fish, and even seafood, using specialized technological processes. These efforts give hope to society, and prove that when we have a common goal, nothing can stop us from leaving a better world for future generations.
Now, it is up to us, the "innovators." We need to join forces with communities and governments to encourage the adoption of new technologies, enabling us to enjoy incredible foods without compromising on nutritional value or flavor, while promoting sustainability, safety, and even revenue growth.
The author is CEO of Israeli biofood-tech company Wilk Technologies, which has developed a process for producing milk in laboratory conditions.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on January 6, 2022.
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