A sustainable, eco-friendly global food supply chain could be secured if the industry embraced developing technologies, according to Dr David Baines of Acumentia Consulting Group.
Speaking at the Scottish Food and Drink Federation symposium 'Sustainability in The Food Chain', Baines said science offered hope in many areas, such as animal feed technologies, genetic engineering, aquaculture, use of soya protein and even growing meat cultures from stem cells.
Baines has submitted a report to the Cabinet's strategy unit on the use of novel technologies to overcome environmental problems and safeguard international food supply. It will help inform the unit's report on food policy, which is scheduled to be sent to Prime Minister Gordon Brown shortly.
"In 40-50 years, global meat consumption alone will double," said Baines. "This is unsustainable for the planet. But there are technologies we can use to solve the crisis.
"Animal feed technologies can reduce [animals' greenhouse gas] emissions. Through genetic engineering, scientists have bred an eco-pig that has 60% less phosphorous in its faeces," he said.
"Fish farming is crucial in the fight against hunger. In 2006, 43% of all fish consumed was farmed," he added. Scotland had massive potential to contribute to aquaculture, because the industry there was already advanced, he said.
Baines continued: "Soy protein is another source of food for the future and PETA [People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals} is offering $1M to anyone who can grow chicken meat from stem cells by 2012."