News and information for Plant & Crop Science community
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Building bridges: an integrated strategy for sustainable food production throughout the value chain
The food production and processing value chain is under pressure from all sides—increasing demand driven by a growing and more affluent population; dwindling resources caused by urbanization, land erosion, pollution and competing agriculture such as biofuels; and increasing constraints on production methods driven by consumers and regulators demanding higher quality, reduced chemical use, and most of all environmentally beneficial practices ‘from farm to fork’. This pressure can only be addressed by developing efficient and sustainable agricultural practices that are harmonized throughout the value chain, so that renewable resources can be exploited without damaging the environment. Bridges must, therefore, be built between the diverse areas within the food production and processing value chain, including bridges between different stages of production, between currently unlinked agronomic practices, and between the different levels and areas of research to achieve joined-up thinking within the industry, so that the wider impact of different technologies, practices and materials on productivity and sustainability is understood at the local, regional, national and global scales. In this article, we consider the challenges at different stages and levels of the value chain and how new technologies and strategies could be used to build bridges and achieve more sustainable food/feed production in the future.