Food and Nutrition Insecurity
One of the essential discussions at the 2022 IMF-World Bank Annual Meetings was about the global food crisis. This does not refer only to the rising food prices but also the consequences it has on the people. Due to the pandemic, economic hardship, and crisis after crisis, many households have been forced to switch to cheaper and lower quality food, which resulted in rising nutrition insecurity. Regarding this, the World Bank's panelists discussed ways to protect and strengthen human capital during the crisis, from different policies to a new food system. However, one of the panelists—Josh Tetrick, CEO of Eat Just—stood out by suggesting a technological and innovative approach to solve those issues.
CAUSE OF FOOD AND NUTRITION INSECURITY
Even before the pandemic, food and nutrition insecurity were worsen due to armed conflicts, socio-economic conditions, and climate change. This was then intensified by the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, which reinforce the price pressures and drove millions of people into food and nutrition insecurity. This directly impacted the cognitive development of young children and those in utero that could be long-lasting or even irreversible. Food with fewer nutrients or 'empty calories' can also lead to increased obesity and diet-related diseases over time, resulting in substantial economic implications.
TECHNOLOGICAL AND INNOVATIVE APPROACH
Eat Just, therefore, offers a solution. A food technology company, it has a mission to build a healthier, safer, and more sustainable food system where everyone eats well. According to Mr. Tetrick, about a third of the world's habitable land is dedicated to planting soy and corn to feed the animals we eat. The problem with raising livestock is that when climate change—such as drought—occurs, corn and soy prices go up, raising the prices of livestock in turn. Cultured meat is lab-grown from a cell, unlike plant-based protein (a more widespread form of "alternative meat"), which uses soy as the main ingredient. These cells can be obtained from a cell bank, an animal biopsy, or a fresh piece of meat or egg. After that, scientists can identify the nutrients to feed that cell. With all these procedures, Eat Just could produce real meat using 70-80% less land-water and carbon emissions.
THE FUTURE OF FOOD
At the same time, there are opportunities from the ongoing crisis that created more demands than ever for cheap but good quality food. Thanks to technology, there is precisely the answer to this. Cultured meat production reduces emissions and saves precious resources, making it possible for humanity to consume meat at an unprecedentedly low cost and with little environmental footprint. With other World Bank panelists agreeing with this stance, more funding for the R&D and production of alternative meat could be expected. Therefore, businesses could consider investing in this area, not only because of the financing or their desire to show their commitment to reducing carbon to the world but also to preserve food security for future generations. What this all says is that when businesses consider the growth of People and Planet while utilizing the help of science and technology, we can help each other and grow profitably in the process.
Although it is still early to say by using technology and innovation, such as cultured meat, businesses could find new ways to mitigate the ongoing food and nutrition insecurity issues that would also create a more resilient, sustainable, nutritious, and resourceful food system.
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