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Feeding 9 billion people by 2050 — Mars shares vision on future of food at Nobel ceremony

12/14/2016

Photo: Niklas Elmehed / Nobel Media

Photo: Niklas Elmehed / Nobel Media

Mars’ Chief Science Officer, Harold Schmitz, discusses alternative foods of the future with Tara Garnett, Food Climate Research Network, Nobel laureate Richard Roberts and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network

The global population is predicted to rise to 9.6 billion by 2050. According to some, farms will need to make 70 percent more food than they do now to feed a population of that size. Humanity today already uses the equivalent of 1.5 planet earths to provide for itself and wastes, on average, a third of the food it grows.

As the 2016 laureates gathered in Sweden to receive their Nobel Prizes, Mars and other experts, leading scientists, policy makers and the public met for the Nobel Week Dialogue to discuss how to make the food system more sustainable, how technological breakthroughs can change the way we farm and eat and what food will be like in the future.

Nobel Ceremony
Experts gathered at Nobel Week Dialogue from all over the world to discuss the future of food
Photo: Alexander Mahmoud © Nobel Media AB 2016

For Mars, the key to a more sustainable food and agriculture system lies in science and innovation. Mars’ Chief Science Officer Harold Schmitz took part in a panel discussion with Nobel laureate Richard Roberts and Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network. He outlined efforts being made that could transform the environmental footprint of meat production. The environmental cost of meat is huge compared to vegetables and grains. With consumption of animal products set to double by 2050, the consequences could be severe. Harold explained that scientists have so far only explored around eight percent of plant proteins as alternatives to meat. He noted that research and uncommon collaboration in this area could yield huge breakthroughs.

Harold also pointed out a shocking side to food and agriculture that, today, doesn’t receive enough attention: food safety. For example, data show that 4.5 million people every year eat food containing aflatoxin — which can be deadly if consumed over long periods of time. Scientists at Mars’ Global Food Safety Center are working hard with partners all over the world to solve the aflatoxin problem and recently joined forces with the African Union.

Speaking after the event Harold Schmitz said, “It’s an honor to represent Mars amongst some of the world’s greatest innovators at the Nobel Week Dialogue – only by working together can we make systemic change that will define the future of food.”

Nobel Ceremony
Scientists at Mars’ Global Food Safety Center in China are working with partners all over the world to create a future of food safety in which no-one, nowhere has to eat food that is unsafe