May 21, 2018

Big Ideas and Emerging Innovations

Space food is pictured at the European Astronaut Centre of the European Space Agency ESA in Cologne, Germany. REUTERS/Thilo Schmuelgen

The First Humans Sent to Mars Will Need to 3D Print Their Meals
Constrained by microgravity and no refrigeration, the current food system in space consists of fully processed, individually packaged foods. 3D printing could provide a solution to these shortcomings and help develop a viable food system on Mars.

A Strategic Mindset Shift Is Needed by NGOs to Fully Embrace Technology
Tech innovations such as biometrics, facial recognition, and drones could be used to improve a range of services provided by the development and humanitarian sector, but adoption remains slow. A recent survey conducted by NetHope found that 70 percent of its nonprofit members lack a digital strategy. A change in mindset and strategy is needed to ensure that the sector does not fall behind.

Top Six Digital Transformation Trends in Agriculture
In recent years, technology in agriculture has rapidly changed the industry. In 2015, the industry’s investment in technology reached a whopping $4.6 billion. Innovations with the potential to make agriculture both sustainable and scalable include IoT and sensors in the field, IoT and sensors in equipment, drones and crop monitoring, farming and robotics, RFID sensors and tracking, and machine learning and analytics.

California Is Turning Farms into Carbon-Sucking Factories
For the first time, California is using cap-and-trade program funding to pay farmers to sequester carbon on a large scale. In theory, this technique will pull 1,088 tons of carbon out of the atmosphere every year. If it works, and these farms manage to capture enough carbon, the program could be scaled up and serve as a model for other states.

How India’s Welfare Revolution Is Starving Citizens
Aadhaar, a biometric identification database, uses an individual’s photograph, fingerprints, and iris scans to generate a unique ID, which is then linked to a range of services, including welfare benefits, traffic tickets, and pensions. Recipients say the system has turned accessing their monthly supply of food into a game of chance with some recipients being accidentally deleted from the government’s ledger altogether.

How Do Corporations Perceive Their Role in the GMO Debate?
Smack at the center of the debate over genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and their role in developing countries are large corporations. A major aim of these corporations is to improve the profitability of farmers in developing countries. They also consider GMOs to be one of many tools needed to reduce agricultural waste and improve yield.


The Global Food and Agriculture Program aims to inform the development of US policy on global agricultural development and food security by raising awareness and providing resources, information, and policy analysis to the US Administration, Congress, and interested experts and organizations.

The Global Food and Agriculture Program is housed within the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, an independent, nonpartisan organization that provides insight – and influences the public discourse – on critical global issues. The Council on Global Affairs convenes leading global voices and conducts independent research to bring clarity and offer solutions to challenges and opportunities across the globe. The Council is committed to engaging the public and raising global awareness of issues that transcend borders and transform how people, business, and governments engage the world.

Support for the Global Food and Agriculture Program is generously provided by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


1,000 Days Blog, 1,000 Days

Africa Can End Poverty, World Bank

Agrilinks Blog

Bread Blog, Bread for the World

Can We Feed the World Blog, Agriculture for Impact

Concern Blogs, Concern Worldwide

Institute Insights, Bread for the World Institute

End Poverty in South Asia, World Bank

Global Development Blog, Center for Global Development

The Global Food Banking Network

Harvest 2050, Global Harvest Initiative

The Hunger and Undernutrition Blog, Humanitas Global Development

International Food Policy Research Institute News, IFPRI

International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center Blog, CIMMYT

ONE Blog, ONE Campaign

One Acre Fund Blog, One Acre Fund

Overseas Development Institute Blog, Overseas Development Institute

Oxfam America Blog, Oxfam America

Preventing Postharvest Loss, ADM Institute

Sense & Sustainability Blog, Sense & Sustainability

WFP USA Blog, World Food Program USA