Viewpoint: Why technology alone cannot solve world hunger and food insecurity

Credit: Sompong_tom/Getty Images
Credit: Sompong_tom/Getty Images

Among technologies expected to aid the production of more and safer food in the future are cultured meat, precision agriculture, drones and artificial intelligence. Yet, technological innovation alone cannot ensure a sustainable food system.

First and foremost, [the food crisis] has an ethical dimension, manifest in the value attributed to what certain choices forego (for example, biodiversity) and the extent to which people are free to choose. It might be impossible to please everyone or to avoid every unintended consequence of technology deployment, but we should ask ourselves if we are doing everything we can to minimize risks — without losing sight of the value of traditional knowledge or the need for behavioural change.

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Though it may be illusory to think that a balanced food system can be met despite the world population’s imbalance, new challenges require new tools, and technological innovation will be key as we move forward.

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The point, however, is that thinking of technological innovation as an excuse for inaction or a substitute for the knowledge and experience accumulated over time is unwise. Though technologies might be the utmost expression of human ingenuity and creativity, perhaps our greatest asset is the ability to recognize that a change of course is due.

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