Researchers at IBM list “5 in 5” every year–five ways that technology will change the world over the next five years. This year, by using technology to reduce hunger and waste, the overarching theme is feeding the world. The world’s population will hit the eight billion mark within the next five years, with one billion of them lacking adequate access to the food supplies needed for a healthy life. At the same time, some 45% of the world’s food supply is lost to waste at the moment. So, does technology have the key to solving the food crisis on the planet?
Microbiomes – Genetic analysis of bacteria and microbes
Just as technology is evolving, so are the microbes that enter the human food chain, such as bacteria. New advances in the genetic analysis will make it possible to monitor and track the spread of these microbes cost-effectively and to understand their impact on human health throughout the world. At any point–in farms, factories, and grocery stores–microbes including bacteria can enter the food chain, increasing the quantity of food while posing a health risk.
Understanding how they are travelling and interacting with the food chain will result in further reductions in food waste and decrease the human cost of disease due to contamination. Breakthroughs to be explored in this area are likely to include IBM’s Consortium for Sequencing the Food Supply Chain, which has been building the most comprehensive microbial genome database in the world over the past ten years and is now working to make it accessible to academic partners.
Keep watching this space for more.