Thursday 22 October 2015

Wanted: 40 Facts about the Future of Food

The Greater Manchester Skeptics Society are looking for 40 facts about food security and food production to be presented as part of their event “The Future of Food”. The event explored the common ground between scientists and activists regarding our ability to feed a growing population in years to come. Together with the talks and discussions on the 23rd October, these facts will cover a great range of issues, from local food production in Manchester to the loss of key food sources worldwide.

Fact #1: Crickets need 12 times less feed than cattle to produce the same amount of protein.

According to a report for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 1,900 species of insects have been used as food, as part of the diet of 2 billion people. Insects have many environmental benefits compared to traditional livestock. They require less water and less land to be cleared for farming and emit fewer greenhouse gases. Being cold-blooded, they are also more efficient at turning feed into body mass.

Image classified as in the public domain
NordGen/Dag Terje Filip Endresen

Fact #2: The Svalbard Global Seed Vault contains around 860,000 samples, protecting these crop varieties for the future.

One of many seed banks around the world, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault was built in 2008 and was designed to withstand disasters such nuclear war. Each variety of a crop may be suited to different climates or resilient against particular pests, and can be used by scientists to breed stronger crops. The first request for seeds was made by the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, after the crisis in Syria forced it to relocate.

Image classified as in the public domain
Danilo Cedrone (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization)

Fact #3: Nearly 3 billion people rely on fish as a major source of protein.

According to the World Wildlife Fund’s “Living Blue Planet” report, nearly 3 billion people receive at least 20% of their protein intake from fish. Average consumption of fish per capita has nearly doubled since the 1960s. As it stands, 29% of the world’s fish stocks are classified as overfished and 61% as fully exploited, meaning that there is no way to increase the amount of fish caught. Increasingly, species are being caught which have longer life spans and take longer to reach maturity, meaning that it takes longer for populations to recover.

If you have a fact to contribute, send it to or tweet using the hashtag #futureoffood. If possible, include a link to the source of the information.

The Future of Food event will be at the Museum of Science and Industry on Friday 23rd October, starting at 7pm. For more details, visit the Manchester Science Festival website.

By Vicky Stiles, Greater Manchester Skeptics Society

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