Biotech experts at Davos last week agreed that despite facing many challenges, in particular with climate change and food security, biotechnology is providing solutions.
“Combating climate change and meeting the nutritional needs of a growing population without exhausting our planet’s resources are two of the biggest challenges of our time,” wrote executives from Novo Holdings, Novo Nordisk Foundation, and Novozymes for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos. All three companies are members of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO).
Two of the most significant issues we have are combating climate change and providing for the nutritional demands of an expanding population without depleting our planet’s resources, the experts argue. “We are far from fully realizing its potential to deliver on the green transition.”
With more than 8 billion people on the planet today and the fact that global food systems are responsible for more than one-third of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, innovators must search for novel approaches to feed everyone sustainably. In order to enhance the existing food systems and agricultural use of land, experts urgently require sustainable technologies and methodologies.
Among the solutions proposed, experts herald the opportunity for biotech to create alternative proteins and prolong the shelf life of food crops.
As Bio.News previously reported, gene editing can help develop birds resistant to avian flu, but it can also help produce pigs resistant to deadly diseases. In recent months, avian flu has caused an uptick in the prices of animal food products like turkey and eggs.
Other solutions include:
- Harnessing microbes and recycled waste for fertilizers, which BIO members Bayer and Corteva are doing, reports Bloomberg.
- Scaling regenerative agriculture, explains the CEO of Yara International and former CEO of Mars Incorporated. (Mars also partnered with BIO member Danimer Scientific to make a biodegradable biopolymer candy wrapper.)
“The world is entering an era of biology—and the field’s power” was a major theme at Davos, reported Axios, highlighting BIO member Ginkgo Bioworks’ remarks at the meeting.
“Food and agriculture collectively account for more than 30% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and over 80% of tropical deforestation and biodiversity loss,” said Bain & Co. “Transforming food systems is essential to meeting net-zero, nature-positive goals by 2030, providing dignified livelihoods and contributing to improved nutrition and health for the earth’s 8 billion people.”