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The Future of Food


Tony Hunter

In the past, innovation in agriculture lagged behind consumer electronics and telecoms. Today, that's changing. As food futurist Tony Hunter explains, food is technology. In this episode, Hunter shares his view of tech-fueled advances in food production and distribution around the world. Topics include: supply chain disruption, new tech for farming, strategies for waste reduction, changes to food supply caused by the pandemic, the distinction between food security and food sovereignty, alternative proteins like lab-grown meat, vertical farming using hydroponics, genomics, microbiome, cellular agriculture, synthetic biology, plant molecular farming, how computing technologies like artificial intelligence accelerate innovation.   If you’re interested in the future, then you really must tune into the changes afoot in the food industry. As Tony explains, food and drink  are the only absolute non-discretionary items for daily human needs.  https://www.FuturistForFood.com

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this week on the futurists Tony Hunter food and drink are the only absolutenon-discretionary things that human beings need everything else in your lifeis discretionary[Music] come back to the futurists I'm Rob turcic and I'm with my co-host BrettKing doing it from Asia hi Brett hey how you doing really great thanks it's liketo have another show with you where we go around the world talking to most interesting people that are building out the vision of the futureand this week we've got a great guest uh Tony Hunter is a food futurist so he's afuturist for the subject of food and at first I think so this is going tobe a good show is food really changing that much but then when you think about it you go wow you know it's like 25 ofall human activity around the planet has something to do with making food growing food or Distributing food so it's apretty big part of what we do in our lives and yeah of course we need it every single day otherwise we get quite hungry Tony welcome to the show it'sgreat to have you on the futurists hey Tony hey Robert hey Brett thanks for having me on the show and Echo what yousay bro but I mean food and drink are the only absolutenon-discretionary things that human beings need everything else in your lifeis discretionary that's a big statement I mean we need clothing it's very nice to have a roofover your head but nice but you know like you can you can buy a set ofclothes and not change them for 10 years if you want to you can look at but you need food every single day you don'tneed something new in your in your clothing or anything else every single day so I shouldprobably qualify discretionary non-discretionary every single day food and drink you don't yeah gonna diesometime yeah that's true you're gonna you're gonna run out of energy pretty quick if you don't do it that's that's true you got to keep the tank filledwell what is happening in the world of food right now because frankly I spend most of my time thinking about Technologies uh that involve computersdigital Technologies Communications telecommunications so forth and um the food seems to be in the periphery rightthat's that's what we order up when we're busy working on our digital stuff is there a ton of change happening rightnow is the Technology Innovation phase kind of coming into the into the food worldyeah absolutely Robert as you say I mean food used to be you know a Poor's secondcousin Backwater compared to things like the electronics Industry but no more Imean the Technologies we're seeing come into food at the moment rival anything we're seeing in the electronics Industryand so much so that my view is food is now technology they are inside yeah Ithink that's true from Farm to Fork you can't talk about food now withouttalking about technology so you can talk about farming as technology of course so food productionyou know we have a lot of Technology that's coming to that but farming methods themselves are having to changeyou know we we've lost 40 percent of our arable land the last 50 years due to soil erosion and pollution andmismanagement of uh of land you know we obviously have a huge debate going onabout the Amazon and about deforestation and so forth there so we need to applytechnology in food production to get better at our ability to produce foodwithout the impact on the planet we've also had a lot of issues with supply chain in terms of food production thelast few years after the pandemic and you know with 2023 being a year potentially of of a global recession youknow it's likely that those problems are going to continue so we have to get better at Supply and paint chainmanagement of food production which some of that means we're going to have to be more locally resilient as well I thinkis that your position Tony yeah look I would agree there Brett I think covert and the war in the Ukraine have shownthe fragility or the certainly the weak points and the cracks in the global food system in places like Australia us andmost of the world we didn't go and find there was no food on the on the shelves maybe some foods were in short supplyyou can't get the brand you want but nobody went hungry if they weren't going hungry beforehand try and find toiletpaper in Melbourne and uh exactly right I had that I heard a story of someone trying to sell back 200 rolls of toiletpaper to Coles because he didn't realize he didn't need them but they wouldn't take them back so anyway that's another another story completely but you know itshowed that the current food system is actually not that resilient particularly animalagriculture I mean in the U.S and elsewhere in the world they pumped millions of liters of milk down thedrains they opened abattoirs to kill pigs and bury them because they couldn'tkill them and pack them nobody wanted them they were getting too big so they killed them and buried them we hadcountries in Europe going we're just going to stop exporting some crops for a while until we see what's going onwe've seen Indonesia ban palm oil exports for a while the Ukraine as weknow wheat sunflower it's a massive issue and shows how fragile that system is why am I paying more for my bread inAustralia from a war in in Europe doesn't make sensematerial for people to connect the dots that's true and it's not often explained how intertwined these systems are herein uh you know in countries like Australia and the United States we have the advantage of um redundancy in thefood supply and different sources other parts of the world though are really suffering I think from the thought ofthis uh this Ukrainian Invasion the Russian invasion of Ukraine because theyare dependent heavily dependent on on the wheat and other grains that are exported from the Ukraine and those haven't been able to go out at the samevolume that they did in the past so the burden Falls heavily on the global Southum you know one of the when we talk about supply chain though isn't it true that inin food distribution one of the biggest issues is that food spoils food gets rotten food sits on a loading dock orit's too long in the sun um talk a little bit about where the waste happens in the food supply wellmost of the waste actually happens at the consumer end because mostly mostmanufacturers don't want waste I bought the product I don't want to waste any more than they absolutely after mostreduction is a priority for them now if we look further back up the supply chain at things um like fruit and vegetablesthere are enormous amounts of bananas in Australia that get plowed under becauseeither they don't have the right Bend to them or they have some other image problemthat they can't be sold and you know in supermarkets single bananas they don't buy singlebananas for some reason you go to your Supermarket look the bananas see the ones that are left they're all singles Igo and buy every single banana I can find because no one else is going to buy them and there's no problem with them soconsumers are very very fickle and if we look at self-reported food wastage inthe UK for instance under the covered lockdowns food wasting self-reportedfood waste just dropped dramatically as soon as the lockdown's finished food wastage went back up to 2018 levelsoh really yep so you know whilst food we think offood as expensive it's not as a percentage of our income food in most places like Australia Europe UK US ispretty damn cheap I pay 1.50 for an avocado do I really care like it's adollar us do I really care if I throw that away no if I was paying ten dollars for avocado I'd make damn sure that itdidn't go to waste so so many things are so cheap that we really don't attach often the value we should to the foodwe've got and wastage is thought it in terms of just it's only a few bucks okay so it's really people buy food andbring it home and then they buy too much and it spoils or they don't cook it quickly enough or something so it's not an issue that food spoiling and thesupply chain you think that that's been sorted out I don't think it's been sorted out I think that depending whereyou are in the world there are major problems like in places like like Africa like harvest the crops small holders putit to the side of the road and wait for the truck to come by to take it to town that's not good so what they've done nowbringing again technology into the supply chain they build solar poweredmonoblock Refrigeration cold rooms self-contained solar powered that peoplecan put their produce in in Chile to stop the spoilage before the truck comes to take it to town it also counts aninternet Hub and Wi-Fi hotspot for people's telephonesI think it's either Kenya or Nigeria so definitely it's the Kenyan Farmers theyuse smartphones for commodity trades and all sorts of stuff it's pretty sophisticated actually it is and I thinkyeah we're just segwaying a bit there into Africa Brett I mean that's one of the last frontiers of food productionwhereas we know that that is one of the this is the most food poor continent onthe planet and we have places like Nigeria that I think by 2050 we'll have more people than the continental US sonot as rich but there's a lot of people there and what's happening at the moment is people are saying what you need to dois what we've done right so set up a feed system import lots of nitrogen phosphorus 27 said we want to makeaccess to fertilizers easier that's not the answer look at the problems that's caused dead spots in the ocean runoffseverything else that's going on it's not the answer answer so what I say is in Africa in particular and any countrythat's early on in the develop their food system why should they duplicate what we've done and the best examplewhich is what include me Brett was Kenya now in 2002 Kenya needed to vastlyimprove their telecommunications to do things like you said Brett getting their smartphones and trade andsend money and everything else now what did they do did they dig tens of thousands of miles kilometers oftrenches putting copper wires put in um you know handset manufacturing industryand the whole lot and then say don't worry in 100 years time you guys will have mobile phones but we've got tofollow what was done in the west of course they didn't they put cell towns in they gave madeaccess to small easy cheap smartphones readily available and that spawned awhole raft of Industries and Kenya LeapFrog A Century of telecommunicationsliterally a century and not making it up you go back you look 100 years telephones copper wires to the mobilephones in a decade yeah and you think something similar is going to happen in agriculture I mean that's what I'msaying should happen Robert I don't know that it will happen because there are powerful interests that want to sell more and more nitrogen want to feedindustry want to grow more cows and more chickens and more whatever and thesecountries are being told that this is the way to go you need to be like usbecause look how successful it's been for us without looking at the downsides and everything else and what that leadsto is a lack of both food security and food sovereignty the two things arequite different Singapore probably thought it was very very food secure until Malaysia stop selling it chickensand all of a sudden no fresh chickens in Singapore from Malaysia anymore so they had security maybe which one of the umthe definitions there from the United Nations is all people at all times havephysical social and economic access to sufficient safe and nutritious foodthat's all very well but that can mean I can buy it from the country next door or I can ship it in from the US orAustralia or ever but sovereignty at a umactually like a political level meaning the power of the state is more about doI control my own food supply if someone decides to shut off food to mewhat is the impact to me for people like countries like Singapore it's enormously important over 90 of their food MiddleEast is in much the same anything from 95 in Oman to 80 odd percent in placeslike Saudi Arabia so they don't have sovereignty they might have security because you can always go and get whatyou want so you think you're secure but and that's where these new technologies can come in because they can be likeBrett was saying cited in that country and make the food in their country whyshould they not put the new technologies in so some of those Technologies look really interesting to me some of themare advancing and are getting quite a bit of investment such as a lab-grown proteins so we're talking aboutlab-grown Meats lab-grown chicken lab grown Seafood that are indistinguishindistinguishable cellularly from you know naturally grown meats and then the other one that'sreally interesting for me is the vertical farming using Hydroponicsum and so um you know these are these are a couple of Technologies but give us give us thegamut of of technologies that you think we're going to be seeing emerging over the next 10 years or so in this spaceyeah well I think there's five technologies that for me driving the future of food and that's alternativeproteins cellular agriculture genomics microbiome and synthetic biology andthose are being accelerated by three other Technologies which is AI sensorsand Quantum Computing and as I said I believe food is now technology technology is Advanced exponentially Isay food is exponential so that is what's going to happen and alternative proteins includes ourplant-based and cellular agriculture includes cultivated meat and if you have a look at syntheticbiology the most interesting one there for me is currently something called plant molecular farmingand what you do there is you take the gene for something you want put it into a plant grow the plant extract themolecule you want and use it and then you process the rest of the product now Nobel foods are growing casein insoybeans they grow the soybeans they take the casein out make cheese from it andprocess the rest their first crops been harvested in 2022 there'll be test products in 2023 we have Polo Po inIsrael growing egg white proteins in potatoes and people growing pigments inlettuce Cutting Edge are these being grown in agreenhouse out in a field or in a laboratory Fields so this is field workso a crop field crops and if you look at some of the other ones some some depending on the country what thelegislation is in the EU you probably can't do any of that but you can in the U.S company called orph genetics inIceland grows them in huge greenhouses grows barley and they produce human growth factors in Bali for cosmetics andhave been for decades wow are they are they doing genetic manipulation of the DNA at the level of like you know a seedor their transgenic species right they've got well they've got other um components in the genome yeah they'vetaken the gene out of an animal I I call it growing animals in Plants how do they do that it's a small bit ofthe animal is it is it is it you know seed by seed or cell by cell it seemslike it'd be hard to scale that up to a whole field of potatoes that's basically what you do is you genetically modifythe crop and then all its seeds contain the DNA you want that's one way of doing itand then you can do that and then if you want to 10 times the production you plant 10 times the number of fieldsso you have to grow one round and get the seeds and then um okay okay onwardsand upwards from from there and it's a lot more efficient than using thingslike huge stainless steel bioreactors which are expensive to buy yeah and have all sorts of problems plant molecularfarming a couple of advantages I can easily scalable and there are no humanpathogens in plants so you don't have a huge pathogen problem compared to looking at um you know contamination andso on when you're growing things in factories oh so the plant molecule or farming the the factory is the plantitself exactly and you can grow it in a field like you would a conventional plant yep okay I don't know if you guysknow but in in the 3D bioprinting Arena particularly for medical purposesfor organs like livers and hearts where it requires fine vasculature they'reactually now producing that that sort of vascular structure using plant materialbecause you know like if you look at uh um various types of leaves they can theycan reproduce they can get the cellular scaffold that they can use for for those constructs it's very interesting butthat's for a human organ so so back to the back to the growing sorry for something no that's okay it's like it'sall it's all interesting I mean actually what you're pointing out is that plants can be a kind of factory right the plantcan be this it can produce a scaffold you can use that to grow uh human cells if you're trying to make an organ butyou can also use it to produce other kinds of things you know I'm astounded that you can produce humanum serums inside of a plant that can be extracted and I'm curious about the process of extraction as well it justseems like it would take a while to scale that up but obviously they have really uh they've really managed to dothat in the last few years that's astounding last time I tuned into synthetic biology for plants they were still using those big Vats like youdescribed and that requires a huge upfront investment and many of those companies got into trouble because theycouldn't make the economics work and seemed like synthetic biology was an industry where the Sun never quite Roseentirely but according to what you've written on your blog at futuresforfood.com you actually say thatsynthetic biology is coming into its own right now it's it's maturing yeah absolutely there's a company called Perfect Day in the USum they've raised it's 750 million US dollars to scale up their production ofwhey protein from yeast and they're backed by a company called ADM one ofthe biggest ingredients companies in the world there are 62 billion US dollar company and they're helping perfect dayto scale and they're selling their whey protein now and they're scaling that andat some point in the future it looks likely that whey protein made by producing it from genetically modified yeast will be the same price or cheaperthan whey protein as a byproduct of cheese making from animals so that'sthat's done done and dusted and that's one of the things I look for as a futurist when do some of these newtechnologies these startups if they get support and or investment from a hugeconventional organization to me that says the future is here and when ADMsaid we're getting into bed with perfect day we're going to help them because these big companies have everythingstartups don't have sales marketing manufacturing experienceum you know they can do all the things that they um the startups can't so when I see thatcome together I go that is that is now a given now how far that'll goas we know as futurists no one can tell you the future anyone who does is eithera fool or a liar but you can say what the alternative Futures could be well sowe like to get acquainted with our futurists by asking them a series of quick questions so that okay we do nowis a quick play around and I'm going to let Brad administer the poison this time so um Brad go for it with the quick firequestions here we go welcome to the lightning round[Music] what was the first science fiction storyyou remember being exposed to Doctor Who in black and whiteDoctor Who I think mine was probably Star Trek but um and what technology do you think hasmost changed Humanity so far so farum um chemistryin manufacturing some of their products are made by chemistry even things like your veneur essence you get frompetrochemicals made by that but in the future synthetic biology the joke willnot be well it's not rocket science this science is it it'll be well it's not synthetic biology is it after all fairenough I saw a good sketch on that once where um you had uh you had a rocket scientistat a party and everyone's introducing themselves and he's like well you know well it's not exactly rocket science andthen incomes a brain surgeon yeah scientist and the guy says well it's notexactly brain surgery I thought that was very clever but anyway my one is to be a third guy come in and say yeah but it'snot synthetic biology there you go name a futurist or on entrepreneur thathas influenced you and why oh um I think the biggest influence to mehas been probably in the early days early exposure Michio Kaku just as ageneral futurist and more recently has a big thinker Peter diamandis I've gotsome of this toffee comes up with and he has some phenomenal um he has the X prize he's the startstarting the X prize and I read a couple of his books um was it abundance and thefuture is faster than you think recommend those to anyone if you want to see what's going on grab those booksum and if I look at um quickly at uh futurists and their umlike theoretical futurist Andy Hines out of the University of Houston and Josephvoros who's uh from the University of swinburne down in in Melbourne in Australiain in respect to your specific field Tony the future of food and so forthtell me have you got any science fiction story you can call on that isrepresentative of the future you think of food production well I mean the one that jumps the mindwhich is of course the little cliches of course the Star Trek replica everybody gets asked when are we going to see aStar Trek replicator but you know in some ways we have a Star Trekreplicator and we also have um uh well sorry just go into Star Trekreplicator there's a company that's making a molecular uh beverage maker and they reckon theycan duplicate any beverage that you want from soft drink to Whiskey to Wine usinga blend of um compounds that they've got in their machine and an alcohol Reservoir andwater reservoir gas Reservoir and they can print you any drink you want on yourbench top that's about it so we've gone a long way from the foodie the 3D foodie printers to to now something more themolecular stuff is very interesting because that's essentially what a replicator is right yepand uh you know the old one with the teleportation I mean we have teleportation in some ways if you lookat it we can take something I can scan something here um in my office so I can send it to youin Thailand and you in the US and you guys can print an exact copy at that endis that teleportation or not I sent the data and the data over thereand did I just teleport that or not and rebuild it yeah there's a there's some interestingdebate that goes on about teleportation but uh you know let's not get into that it's for another show you you go firstas my view on that tell me the other side yeah no you remember that Mel Brookssing with the teleporter and why did anyone why didn't anyone tell me my ass was this big no sorryanyway yeah um all right well that's a good that's a good point to take a break on so thanksTony um you are listening to the Future we're going to take a quick break and then we'll be right back with more discussionon the future of food production and the future of Agriculture and uh food itself uh right after this break you'relistening to the futurists provoked media is proud to sponsorproduce and support the futurist podcast provoke.fm is a global podcast Networkand content creation company with the world's leading fintech podcast and radio show Breaking Banks and of courseit's spin-off podcast breaking Banks Europe breaking Banks Asia Pacific and the fintech 5. but we also produce theofficial phenovate podcast Tech on reg emerge everywhere the podcast of theFinancial Health Network and next-gen Banker for information about all our podcasts go to provoke.fm or check outbreaking Banks the world's number one fintech podcast and radio showwelcome back to the futurists I am your host Brett King with my co-host Rob turcthis week we're speaking to Tony Hunter he is a food futurist we've beendiscussing the issues of food scarcity and food security and some of theemerging methodologies around this we do we will be getting into a bit more ofhis forecasting process in a moment but before that let's just go to our Deepdive Robert what have you have for us this week in news from the future[Music] it is from the future and the Deep dive here we go uh this week I'm going totalk to you about uh in the environments and climate change a topic we've coveredmany times on this show but it's going to keep coming back and that's because one of the core themes of this program is that there are certain forces thatare going to constrain the future they're going to set the course for the future and clearly one of those is natural resources and the environmentum and so of course there's been a huge amount of news about weather recently and that's what I want to talk a little bit about this so one way to summarizeall that is to say simply that the climate will shape the future and that's perfectly obvious but the flip side ofthat is also that not all climate change is natural human activity can affect the climate we know this human-inducedclimate change will also affect the future so anthropo anthropogenic climate changeis linked to human activity such as the amount of fossil fuel that's burned oraerosol releases into the atmosphere land alteration from agriculture deforestation and so forth these arehuman activities that actually shape the climate and therefore we reap the atmospheric consequences right now we'reexperiencing some of those consequences we're experiencing side effects of anthropogenic climate change right nowyou might call it Global weirding not global warming because we're having these really really unusual weathereffects I am in California right now where we have been inundated with rain for weeks after seven years of droughtwe can't complain because we've been begging for the rain we just wish that seven years worth didn't come in atwo-week span because it's wiping out Bridges and knocking out roadways and washing away Cliffs and causingmudslides and sinkholes that swallow cars and so forth so that's definitely a weird phenomenon and it doesn't seem tobe stopping because there's another storm on its way right as I speak uh so we have that happening here butmeanwhile in Europe where it should be cold if you remember just a few months ago everyone was speculating that theEuropeans were gonna have a cold winter and there there was an issue with getting gas from Russia and how are they going to heat the factories in the homesbut Europe is having a heat wave right now and so they're not getting a nice Frosty winter at allum also news came out this week a report was released that in 2022 ocean temperatures reached their hottesttemperature ever recorded we've been we've been doing accurate recording of weather of temperatures in the oceansince the 1940s and we have accurate records going back now consistent records going back to the late 1950shotter oceans have an effect they lead to more extreme weather including hurricanes typhoons and the Cyclonecondition that's causing the storm in California right now and more moisture in the air are also something to drivefurther rainfall these atmospheric rivers that we're experiencing that also occurred last year in Australia and inEurope so we see this sort of like you know weird side effect occurring in different places at different timeswe're more focused on what's happening with our weather right now in our place that we have in the bed but as you can start to see there's this strangepattern emerging and it's unlike any weather weather pattern we've ever had warm oceans play a role in that and whythat's happening is the ocean's a giant sponge ninety percent of the excess heat that's trapped by gas greenhouse gasemissions is absorbed by the ocean so as I said at the outset naturalresources is one factor that's going to shape the future but those resources are allocated by private markets and publicpolicy and those are two other forces that shape the future so it's really about the interplay of Market forces andpolicy that are going to determine how climate change unfolds in the future now people can actually do somethingabout this trend politics really matter politics really count this is how humans govern their behavior particularly whenwe can't leave it to the free market and the basic premise is pretty simple consume less today and pollute lesstoday so that we can preserve a healthy climate for future Generations sounds pretty simple but it turns out it's areally big political challenge of policy issue yeah yeah but we've risen in the occasion we've actually managed to dothis so there there was more news this week a U.N report was released that's a really good example of government policythat shows how the natural environment can be improved if humans make a change in the behavior it's about the ozonelayer and you may recall that in 1985 scientists discovered this giant hole in the ozone layer that was aboveAntarctica and it was growing and it was actually quite a scary thought because the ozone layer absorbs the sun'sultraviolet radiation or a huge amount of it so that we don't literally burn our skins off but the worry was that wewere you dumping so many chemicals hundreds of different kind of chemicals they're called floral carbon seas andthey float up into the atmosphere and they start to erode the ozone layer so in the late 1980s the worldgalvanized really quickly they discovered this whole 1985 by then by the mid by the late 1980s uh there wassome impetus around the world to actually do something about it and by 1988 the Montreal protocol was signedwell since that time the amount of CFCs in the air has declined by 80 percentand the ozone hole appears to be repairing itself so this is a sign that humans actually can get their acttogether relatively quickly and do something about human-induced anthropogenic climate changeand that brings me to two stories this week two political stories one of them comes from Brazil uh where a newpresident has just been inaugurated he's returning to office after some time out of office and actually time in prison it's Luis inacio Lula de Silva betterknown as Lula and Lou has just taken office uh vowing to fight for fight against uh Forestdeforestation in the Amazon and he's also promised to renew resume the monitoring of illegal activity in therain forest and he's going to process you know prosecute uh illegal logging and other activity that happens in theAmazon which is great because his predecessor yair bolsonaro didn't do that in fact he weakened all theenvironmental agencies in Brazil and kind of encouraged uh some people say he promoted the illegal Mining and loggingin the in the Amazon but many of bolsonaro's decrees were can be undone by uh by Lula and Lula tends to do thatnow it's not going to be easy faces opposition uh he's got a split uh Congress and in um in the Congress therewill be some uh pro-business interests that are going to push legislation that will stop him they want to open theAmazon the further Mining and further cattle farming and also six of the nine governors of Amazonian States theyactually support Economic Development they see developing the forest as a way to grow their local economies so it'snot an easy road ahead of him and that's not all just as he was about to take office uh this past weekend there was anInsurrection uh where the the capital was taken over by rioters uh similar towhat happened in the United States just two years ago in Washington DC so theseinsurgents briefly occupied the capital the presidential Palace the Supreme Court and the Congress they defaced itthey made a huge gross mess everywhere they've been arrested more than more than 1200 people have been arrested andmore arrests are coming so there's been some pushback but just today um Lula came out with the fullgovernment the the courts all the ministers and they United around this new presidency which is something thatthe United States hasn't quite managed to do because we have plenty of politicians here who still contend that the last election was flawed in somerespect though there's no proof to show that and so the flip side of the Brazil story uh which though there was thisInsurrection there seems to be a healthy response to it in the United States we have a different outcome here and ofcourse in the last couple of weeks we've witnessed this kind of embarrassing spectacle where there's been a fight for leadership in the House ofRepresentatives in the Congress um and who the people who've now taken control of Congress sorry of the lowerhouse of Congress the House of Representatives in the U.S are actually the same set of politicians who deniedthe election was accurate the people who fought against it and the people who supported uh president Trump's attemptto overturn the government and his Insurrection those are now the people that are running the house and so it's going to be quite a quite an outstandingand bizarre episode or spectacle on American history coming up to win uhelections the Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy had to cut a deal with the most extreme elements in the Republican Party in the United States and he's ceded muchof his authority to them and that means that they are ineffectively in a position to veto or actually oust himfrom his role if they don't get their way so a small number of very extreme politicians have an outsized voice inour lower house of Congress it's worth noting that many of these politicians take hundreds of thousands of dollars ofpolitical donations from fossil fuel companies for instance during the 2022 campaignspeaker McCarthy himself took more than five hundred thousand dollars of political donations from oil and gas interests so in the United States youcan expect little to no progress on environmental policy and environmental issues and possibly even a defunding ofthose of those initiatives uh with the current Congress that we have the summer and this simply is this uh anthropogenicclimate change is caused by humans and humans can actually do something about it we have two examples of humans doingsomething positive about it and unfortunately one example of humans who are kind of resetting the clock and taking a step backward we'll keep youposted on the story because climate is going to be a big factor in the future but Tony I want to bring that up becauseI thought it's kind of useful to put food in the context of climate change obviously the two interplay considerablythat I think Brett made the point earlier that a considerable amount of farmable land has been lost to uh toeither desertification or some other Factor uh it's quite clear then that our food supply is dependent on a healthyclimate can you talk a little bit about that in the later resilience in the comments you made before the break yeahlook just to um agree with what you're saying there Robert the anthropogenic climate changeis real um I'll just reading just recently um over the last 800 000 yearsthe CO2 content of the atmosphere has not gone above 300 parts per million prior to the Industrial Revolution itnow rests that don't quote me but something like 438 448 and so people whogo oh no it's nothing it's just natural well they take in Antarctica I think itwas they take the small gas bubbles from the ice and test the CO2 content andthat's how they plotted 800 000 years of CO2 in the atmosphere hasn't gone above300 until we see the Industrial Revolution I don't know what more we can say thereon that but if we have a look at that and at the moment with climate change what we're looking at is even if we doour very best even if Congress were to experience some Epiphany in the U.S andeverybody all the other conservative politicians did so we're still heading probably for 1.5 degrees or more in thefuture and that is going to dramatically affect in the long-termfuture of crops and mostly in areas that can afford at least yeah some places like India China sub-Saharan Africa evenBrazil they're going to experience greater than five percent drops in crop yields for things like potatoes ricewheat and corn so basically those people are going to suffer and if we lookthrough to the end of this Century we're looking at 24 decrease in yield of cornin the US so so food scarcity is going to be a major feature of climate changewhich is going going to accentuate the problem of Eco refugees or climatemigration there's a very strong argument that right now what's happening in thesouthern border of the United States the you know Guatemalan Ecuadorian um you know people coming up from fromthe south already this is largely an impact of climate change because theyhave they they can't because of the warming temperatures there they can't Farm their crop yields have already failedum you know you've got or or food scarcity is already emerging there so this is a massive issueum so Tony as a food futurist you know if you were designing a solution to thisproblem what would it be but think solution Brett is basically what we talked about previously the newtechnology so rather than supporting population growth and growth of the middle classes through conventionalAgriculture and just trying to do more of what we do now and by the way there's not enough arable land or fresh water onthe planet to do that just think about that not enough arable land or freshwater on the planet to Simply duplicate what we do now feedan extra 2 billion people and they're growing middle classes we need to do more with less and most of theseTechnologies we're talking about can either do it with much reduced water because water scarcity is going to bethe next big one despite all the floods that Robert's having um it's going to be a major issueglobally so that arable lands you talked about breadth reduction in the the umthe amount of variable land and it's and its productivity so some of thesetechnologies will use 99 less land 90 percent less water to produce the sameamount of food as an agricultural crop so using these Technologies and doingmore with less is a way to address the fact that we can't simply keep sucking resources out of the earth dumping ourwaste wherever we can and expecting it's all going to be okay now Tony one of the things one of thesolutions for this that's been proposed many times over the last 10 or 12 years is uh vertical farming and the ideathere is to put the farm in the city where the people are and use you know maybe a disused warehouse or an outdateda factory of some sort that's not being used and grow grow the food uh underlights with uh in a closed system so you don't need to have pesticides because it's all endorsed there's no bugs andyou can recycle the water so it's also very water efficient but as far as I know they've neverreally cracked the formula to scale these they've tried this in many places in Chicago here in Los Angeles anddowntown Los Angeles I know of two places but the economics never seemed to work out what's your take on verticalfarming is that a solution is that something in the future or is it one of those Technologies where the Sun neverquite Rises well the sun doesn't need to rise which is one of the advantages foreignbut I mean it is quite successful in parts of the Middle East where obviously prices are that's all imported so in theMiddle East has been a big expansion of vertical farming the biggest problem we're seeing at the moment is the huge rise in energy costs because that's theprimary input cost and whilst we are getting a large amount of our energyfrom fossil fuels coal and gas and thecosts of those is going up and where that contributes to the increasedcost in vertical farming is making a lot of them marginally or even uncompetitive or some people are putting off capitalexpenditure because at the moment with the rise in Energy prices it just doesn't make sense now if we move to afully renewable energy grid and where some of these products can use use theirown solar energy then that's a whole different ball game and there is acompany not doing vertical formulas so I'm going to go back to your question I think there's a future for vertical farming I think it's in a down tip atthe moment until we look at Energy prices I think it has a place in thefood system will it ever replace huge amounts of agricultural land that's um iffy one for mebutton's a company called solar Foods in Finland they suck moisture out their air intotheir machine separate out the moisture the carbon dioxide and the nitrogen and using solar energy they split the waterinto hydrogen oxygen they had a few minerals and they grow single cell protein and so this is this protein saltTomatoes talked about using this solar food on long duration space missions as well that's where it came from so airprotein or a US company they're doing the same thing but solar foods are building their first factoryum and they're so lean product will be on the market soon so we'll see whether it truly is commercially viable butthey're building a factory to do it did you see air protein is that no this is called they call it solar food butbasically it's producing protein out of air because you know with a chemicaltreatment or electromagnetic treatment of the noble gases that are in the atmosphere and stuff like that it'spretty interesting but it produces a consumable food but it you know is is it nutritionally of real value Tony yepit's got a fantastic amino acid profile it's got very low fat content and youknow it is an ideal product um for then texturizing same as youwould do with a soybean where you grind it up and texturize it to make it into plant-based products you can texturizethis in the same way to make it into alternative protein products and that solar foods and the other companiescalled air protein and so they they they're trying to commercialize this old NASA it almost sounds like the mannerthat was uh in the the Old Testament right yeah yeah I know guys we've onlygot about five minutes left so let's get a little bit sci-fi this is a great way to take us into this but you knowlooking out 50 years in the Future Tony what what is our food production youknow at 9 billion you know or or 10 billion inhabitants on the planet whatdoes it look like well let's let's go to my Preferred Future because I sayeveryone thinks I can tell you the future the fool or a liar but what I see is us using these new technologies tomanufacture large portions of our food requirements without the anthropogeniceffects and impacts that we're currently seeing so that we don't in places like Africa in particular simply duplicatethe way we do things now so we're using these new technologies there's far more food sovereignty around the placecountries being self-sufficient we're not exporting products all around the planet chewing up resources again aswell and swapping them around and people are basically assured of gettingnutritious food that they need you had written that sinbio will eat theworld so tell us about you that Vision like how will synthetic biology eat theworld the other part of that is symbi will eat the world and the world will eat simbaiobecause synthetic biology is used to make products that we eatcheese fruit you'd like cheese you guys love cheese right let me tell you how you make cheese well you used to make itwith a fourth stomach of a two day old dead calf in some milk separate out thecurds in the way get the curds and make it into cheese very simple one nowpeople realized in the 80s that oh there's not going to be enough dead calves around because cheese consumptionis going up like this and people don't like the idea of all two-day-old dead calves being killed for their stomachsand where are we going to sell the veal it's not that popular anyway so our friends at Pfizer inserted the gene forchymosin which is one of the enzymes in a calf stomach into a microorganism andsince 1990 that chymosin has been used to make cheese and it's now used to make 85 to90 of all cheeses in places like the US Australia EuropeEtc so if you like cheese and you've been eating cheese for the last 32 years have you been around long enough you'vebeen eating a food made with a product of a genetically modified organismand now I ask are either of you guys going to stop eating cheese because I've told you that no no so but but this is well you know Ithink we have to change out I think we have to change our core thinking on this so it's just this collection ofmolecules as you've said and if we can get that molecule mix right and that's I think where you know I think thechallenge to this will be me right if we can convince people that lab-grown proteins are just meat that they're justconstructed in a a you know a different way from the way we've grown them beforebut they're indistinguishable from a chemical or biological uh State you knowfrom from naturally grown meat I think there are people that still pay a premium for naturally grown yeah forexample but the way they do for organic food you know right but that's going to be um that's going to be a price pointissue for those people and a sign of their wealth and so forth the real challenge is thatum the the you know we already have these big commercial farming organizations thattend to um you know and and Monsanto and well they've changed their name now but youknow these sort of companies that have um you know reduced the nutritionalvalue of food over time because of uh this uh Geo or this engineering you knowum approach to things and and I'm concerned about sort of this Franken food future where we get sort ofsynthetic foods that don't have the same value as naturally um you know occurring Foods what's yourposition on that Tony people call it Franklin food Robert knows I don't know you've had it but um a thing called aturducken a turkey stuffed with a duck stuffed with the chicken yeah if youwant to talk about Franken food there it is right there on your kitchen table at Thanksgiving right per ducken what onwho on Earth I don't I don't want to eat anything but it tastes goodand that's what it's all about Robert in the end like you're saying too Brett ifwe can get these products whether they're plant-based or air protein based whatever to actually taste good at theright price point then people will buy it at the moment people say it doesn't taste as good as a hamburger and peoplehave this like a hamburger or steak is the best tasting food that will ever be invented I say no it's simply the besttasting food we know at the moment there is nothing to say we cannot develop afood product of some sort that will taste better than a hamburger and havehigh nutritional value potentially exactly right it's the same issue this is my issue with plant-based meat I Ihave been impressed with plant-based meat I've tried it I gave it like the earnest College try and I found I didn'tlike the texture of The Taste but also it's processed like crazy and if you're not supposed to eat processed foodthat's full of oil so do you eat bacon no handsure yeah have you had a look at the processing and the ingredients list onbacon and ham this is longer than all the plant-based sorry not all the most of the plant-based products bacon or hambecause people always want to compare it to a hamburger why well I don't eat a hamburger made of bacon though rightokay if you say to yourself I'm gonna evaluate this plant-based productagainst a hamburger only because I'm going to substitute one with the other well what if you're substituting thatfor bacon or ham for a heavily processed meat product a huge number of heavily processed meat products with nitrates inthem and all sorts of issues um in those products but everybody wants to go ah wecompare it so the fair comparison is a plant-based sausage which probably isless lethal than a I actually like the impossible Burgers man I mean maybe I'mweird but I like it I think that's the state of the art it's the impossible I agree with that Iwant to leave you with one question before we wrap up and and um you know but um looking out 30 50 yearsum do you think synthetic biology is the biggest uh technology that um Humanitywill create over that time or do you think there's something bigger that you're optimistic about just being apure futurist now pure futurist synthetic biology has the ability to change everything from how we make ourscreens for our mobile phones to the food that we eat and it will havean enormous impact Way Beyond anything we have ever seen before even includingchemistry and all the things that chemistry has brought us synthetic biology is literally going to change theworld and that's my comment uh you know since I will eat the world the world will eat some bio we're eating cheesewe're already eating symbiotics we're with you on that we love synthetic biology on this show one of our earliestinterviews was with Andrew Hessel who is a huge proponent of synthetic biology you know the Nature has this incrediblegenerative capacity in biology and we haven't yet mastered it uh we think wehave we keep thinking we we found new ways to master it but really what you're talking about when you reprogram thatthat power at the cellular level you can unlock it and direct it to whateverpurpose you need and it's not just food because bear in mind all of our Healthcare are Pharmaceuticals thosealso are derived from nature almost all of our energy is derived from some sort of biological product even if it's youknow fossil fuels from the ancient past so we depend massively on biology for more than half the economy I'm with youon that synthetic bio is the Future Tony it's been such a great pleasure chatting with you we've enjoyed this tremendouslywhat a great topic thanks for joining us and we wish you very much the best in the future of food how do people reachyou what's the best way for people to follow please I've got my website which is uhfuturistforfood.com yep and you can find me on LinkedIn I'mquite active on LinkedIn please do connect with me there and my email address isum Tony at futuristforfood.com and uh and Tony H underscore futurist onTwitter right yep that's right okay and thanks guysfor having me on the program I'd like to say have a great future thanks that's that's as close to our tagline whichyou're going to hear in a moment that's right well great thanks for having us thanks for being on I mean uhWe've enjoyed it thanks okay uh that wraps that up for the week uh you've been listening to thefuturists Our Guest this week was Tony Hunter the food futurist and um for myself you know for my co-host BrettKing we want to thank everybody who's listening we thank you especially those who have been following us on socialmedia and sending in suggestions for speakers and questions and so forth we love that level of Engagement it'salways fun to hear from the audience and we really agree we really are grateful to those who take a moment to give afive-star review for the show that helps other people discover the show and the good news there is in the last sixmonths the program has been growing rapidly in terms of number of downloads so that's very encouraging feedback uhkeep helping us make the show findable for other people we really appreciate it I want to give a big shout out to Elizabeth Severanceum our producer Who and the rest of the team at provoke media who so generously have supported this show and um well Iguess now it's time for us to do our slogan let's see if we can get this right Brad we'll see youin the future [Music]well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hope you did please subscribe and share itwith people in your community and don't forget to leave us a five star review that really helps other people find theshow and you can ping us anytime on Instagram and Twitter at futuristpodcast for the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions that you'd like us to askthanks for joining and as always we'll see you in the future [Music]

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