OVER a thousand people attended the event which hosts a panel of scientists to hear from academics on the challenges of feeding the future.

The scientists expanded on the understanding of the world and how it can lead to the emergence of new technologies.

Key issues were answered on how they can bring huge benefits, but also challenges, as they change society’s relationship with the world.

They highlighted that researchers, developers and wider society must ensure that we maximise the benefits from new technologies whilst minimising these challenges.

Regulation is important here, but the research and development process is also key.

Therefore, wider society must be involved in deciding how technologies develop and where research and development effort is focussed.

They spoke widely on the research that they have done on genetic modification of crops and demonstrated with different types of food.

Genetically modified tomato
Genetically modified tomato

Genetic Modification is a technology that involves inserting DNA into the genome of an organism. To produce a GM plant, new DNA is transferred into plant cells. Usually, the cells are then grown in tissue culture where they develop into plants. The seeds produced by these plants will inherit the new DNA.

Professor Ottoline Leyser, plant development biologist at the University of Cambridge and director of the Sainsbury laboratory, focuses on how plants adjust their growth and development and how they suit the environmental conditions in which they are growing in.

Her priority focuses mainly on food, where it comes from and how people can ensure they have enough for the future.

Sir Adam Baulcombe, Regius Professor of Botany at the University of Cambridge works specifically on plant biology. He is credited with the discovery of characterisation of Ribonucleic acid silencing system that protects plants against viruses.

He said: “As a component of that, a discussion about genetic modification can contribute to healthy sustainable food supplies for the next century.”

Professional chef, Charles Michel demonstrating genetically modified food

Professional chef, Charles Michel, now food philosopher has been doing research for the past four years on experimental psychology at Oxford University and trying to understand how our minds makes up flavour perception by integrating information from our senses.

He explained: “We are trying to get a holistic on the design of the experiences using science as one of the views.”

His research includes trying to see how to design sensory ques to guide people towards the healthy choices. Genetic modification issues were discussed by the panel on how the future can benefit from food.

He continued: “My take on it is that there is already too much food on earth, we produce food for over twenty billion but we are only feeding six out of seven. But at the same time there is a lot of waste and misuse of food.”

Every plant we are producing we are only using twenty percent of its edible potential, a project that he is working on at the moment called ‘root to flower’.

This project aims to raise awareness on the fact that maybe half of the food that is grown is thrown away into the garbage bin because it doesn’t fit into the standards of the supermarket.

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