Global Challenges and the Critical Needs of Food Science and Technology (FS&T)

October 08, 2019

This report, written by Peter Lillford and Anne-Marie Hermansson for IUFoST, provides an action plan to future-proof the global food supply chain. It consists of seven missions that address the critical needs of food science and technology.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a response to threats of climate change, population growth, wealth increase, and the needs for greater prolonged health. Their impact on global food supply chains is evident and demands significant innovation if these challenges are to be met. Recent reports from the International Academy Partnership consider how science and technology can deliver solutions and have highlighted the enormous potential of biological sciences in understanding crop improvement and the role of diet on human health. However, crops must be converted to safe stable and nutritious food, and the necessary skill base is the science and technology of food itself.

Rather than simply repeat the challenges, the Global Challenges and the Critical Needs of Food Science and Technology report outlines an action plan, in the form of Missions to be accomplished, each with their own objectives. They are:
Mission 1 - To Introduce more diverse and sustainable primary production
Mission 2 - To develop new processes and systems, to ensure more sustainable manufacture
Mission 3 - To eliminate material waste in production, distribution and consumption
Mission 4 - To establish complete product safety and traceability
Mission 5 - To provide affordable and balanced nutrition to the malnourished
Mission 6 - To improve health through diet
Mission 7 - To integrate big data, information technology and artificial intelligence throughout the food chain.

It becomes immediately apparent that to complete the Missions, new knowledge will be required, best achieved by international collaborations; not only in food science and technology, but across all relevant scientific advances in biology, medicine, engineering, sociology, and the underpinning and rapidly developing information technologies. Examples of their contributions are presented within each Mission.

The younger generation’s response to the emerging threats to human society and the planet itself is greatly encouraging. One of the main objectives of the report is to enthuse the brightest and best of our young scientists and technologists to see their opportunities to contribute in the necessary development of food science and technology.

They cannot do it alone. All the powerful players in the food chains, be they academics, governments, industrialists, and consumers themselves are urged to use this document as a basis for strategic discussions for the route to sustainability of the future food supply chain; wherever they are, and with whatever specific problems they are likely to encounter.

The report ‘Global Challenges and the Critical Needs of Food Science and Technology’ was commissioned by IUFoST and authored by Peter Lillford, University of Birmingham, UK and Anne-Marie Hermansson, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden.

Prof Anne-Marie Hermansson from Chalmers University of Technology and Peter Lillford from the University of Birmingham, will discuss the scientific and technical requirements that need to be addressed to fulfil the SDGs during the plenary session on Wednesday 13 November 2019 at the EFFoST2019 conference. Visit the EFFoST International Conference website for more information on the conference programme and the speakers.

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