What will be on our dinner plates in 50 years’ time? In October, Horizon examines how science is shaping the future of food.
As the pressure to feed more people grows alongside the urgency of reducing our environmental footprint, we talk to the scientists attempting to maximise our crop yields without increasing our environmental impact.
We look at how genetic screening could lead to an era of personalised nutritional advice, with people advised to follow diets specifically tailored to their own biology. We also find out how technology is transforming food packaging, and what impact cryopreservation could have on the way we store our food.
Finally, we find out how EU researchers are developing ways to enhance the healthy ingredients found in foods, making them even better for us.
Cryopreservation, in which organic material is stored at extremely low temperatures, may not yet have reached the science fiction dream of placing people in suspended animation, but technology inspired by hard-to-freeze fish is helping make it an effective way of preserving genetic plant material for future use.
‘I would like to show that when one uses novel concepts or thinks outside the box, there is no limit to yield ... the limit is just in our head,’ according to Professor Dani Zamir from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.
Robots won’t replace doctors any day soon, but they can already help medical professionals do amazing things. This month, Horizon looks at how robots will someday perform remote physical and ultrasound examinations so doctors can make a diagnosis from a distance, and medical avatars for elderly people that help them stay fit and safe. Plus, we see how computer games could make young people lead healthier lifestyles and how to give self-help apps more scientific merit.
How will we have enough food to feed another 2 billion people by the middle of this century without destroying our planet? Agriculture is already one of the biggest contributors to climate change. This month, we hear from scientists designing disease-resistant crops using gene editing, packing more calcium into finger millet, and resurrecting ancient crop varieties to offset the sector’s environmental impact. Plus, we hear from Dr Manoj Dora about so-called lean agriculture, which is looking to make agriculture more sustainable by eliminating waste from the production process.
Using off-the-shelf technology and innovative economics, lightweight helium balloons have started carrying remote-controlled laboratories to the edge of space and back, offering the business case for new types of science missions.
Floating research laboratories are reaching the fringes of space.
Automated and connected devices can save lives.
EU firms should be brought within ‘innovation ecosystems’ to develop breakthrough technology, according to Prof. Luke Georghiou.