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How to feed the world without costing the earth

There is an inextricable link between our food and climate change. Agriculture is responsible for some of the biggest carbon emissions, and at same time, food security is under serious threat from the impacts of climate change.

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Climate change is already having an observable impact on food security, with crop yields negatively affected by drought and drying in numerous regions worldwide. Disruption to global food supplies is only expected to get worse, as food production is impacted by more extreme weather events, drought, wildfire and even the redistribution of pests as a result of climate change.  

At the same time, the IPCC's Special Report on Climate Change and Land (2019) estimates that agriculture is directly responsible for up to 8.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, with a further 14.5% coming from land use change, such as clearing forests to create farmland. Carbon released by the global movement of food is not the only greenhouse gas of concern: there is also methane released by livestock and from organic waste in landfills, along with nitrous oxide produced by fertilizers.  

So how does the way we produce, transport and consume food need to change to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and simultaneously increase resilience in our food supplies to the worst effects of climate change? Should we stop eating meat? Should we eat more insects? Will the food of the future be predominantly lab-produced?  

We brought a panel of experts in agriculture and food innovation to debate these questions and more:   

  • Dr Asaf Tzachor: Lead Researcher for Food Security and Research Associate, Centre for the Study of Existential Risks (CSER), University of Cambridge
  • Dame Professor Ottoline Leyser DBE FRS: Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge, Chief Executive Officer of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Sainsbury Laboratory, Cambridge
  • Petronella Halwiindi: Country Director, Uganda, Farm Africa
  • Heston Blumenthal OBE: Six Michelin-starred chef, founder of the world-famous Fat Duck restaurant, pioneer of multi-sensory eating and Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry
  • Dr Modi MwatsamaSenior Science Lead (Food Systems, Nutrition and Health), Our Planet, Our Health, Wellcome Trust. Formerly Director of Policy & Global Health, UK Health Forum
  • Dr Anjana Ahuja (Chair): Science correspondent at the Financial Times and co-author with Jeremy Farrar of best-selling book Spike: The Virus vs. The People—The Inside Story
  • Matt ReynoldsScience Editor at WIRED UK and author of How to Feed the World without Destroying It, published on September 16

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