Mark Post

Future of Food

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Global Grand Challenges

Proteins are a valued part of our diet, yet their production is resource intense and especially animal proteins have a large environmental impact. New technologies collectively referred to as cellular agriculture aim to provide the same products, e.g. meat, through alternative methods with a much higher efficiency and smaller footprint. By their perceived disruptive nature and because food is emotion rather than reason, cellular agriculture technologies reveal the tension between rational benefits of innovation and emotional resistance against the prospects of future innovative realities. These aspects are discussed using cultured meat as an example.

Topics & Presentations

  • Why is this relevant, what is the problem we are facing for the world
  • Technological dificulties
  • Psychological side
  • When can we buy in vitro meat

Proteins are a valued part of our diet, yet their production is resource intense and especially animal proteins have a large environmental impact. New technologies collectively referred to as cellular agriculture aim to provide the same products, e.g. meat, through alternative methods with a much higher efficiency and smaller footprint. By their perceived disruptive nature and because food is emotion rather than reason, cellular agriculture technologies reveal the tension between rational benefits of innovation and emotional resistance against the prospects of future innovative realities. These aspects are discussed using cultured meat as an example.

  • The increasing disconnection with food through urbanisation
  • The impact of new public space that is available when farming activities decrease
  • Farmers that focus on new technologies

Feeding the world is extremely complex and ever evolving through the rise of new technologies, changing economics, changing climate and changing human behavior. In addition, there is a wide variety between regions in the world in how agriculture is practiced and valued. Some over-arching large trends however seem to be inevitable. Urbanisation will continue resulting in a increasing disconnect between people and systems producing and those consuming food. It is also expected that the increase in efficiency in how land is being used, will result in repurposing of land for for instance nature conservation, recreation or a combination. Farming is a playfield for novel technologies such as drones, robots, satellite imaging, big data, AI and gene editing. These technologies will change the lives of farmers (most would argue the change is for the better) and will necessarily lead to a new perception of farming. Some of these changes might be disruptive and will lead to the creation of public opinions that may drive future choices. A good example of the latter is the GMO discussion.

  • Psychological research about accepting in vitro meat
  • In vitro meat and other cultures and religions
  • What is the influence on animal well being
  • What is the impact on the workforce
  • What about in vitro meat of humans

Food is emotion and greatly influenced by culture, either regional, national, continental or religious. These differences become apparent when talking and thinking about novel foods and novel technologies in food. It is also obvious that our attitude towards food and diets are changing over time. One inevitable trend is that we are increasingly cognizant of and sensitive to the impact of our food choices on farm-animals. As we become more ‘decadent’, our tolerance towards using animals for human purposes will decrease linearly. Examples are the shifting political positions on live transport of animals, caged eggs but also in the increasing acceptance of vegetarianism and veganism as authentic choices by consumers. Although these changes are likely not disruptive (take decades), they do affect the need for changing types of food and their production methods.

Biography

Mark Post has a medical degree and a PhD in Pulmonary Pharmacology. He has been an Assistant Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, Professor of Vascular Physiology at Maastricht University and Professor of Angiogenesis in Tissue Engineering at the TU/e. He soon became involved in a Dutch government-funded program investigating ‘in vitro meat’, which resulted in the world’s first lab-grown burger in 2013.

In October 2015, Post and food technologist Peter Verstrate announced the launch of their company Mosa Meat, which seeks to bring cultured meat on the market in 2020. Mark is also CSO of Qorium B.V. which is bringing cultured leather to the market.

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