Newman, L., Newell, R., Dring, C., Glaros, A., Fraser, E., Mendly-Zambo, Z., Green, A. G., & KC, K. B. (2023). Agriculture for the Anthropocene: novel applications of technology and the future of food. Food Security. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-023-01356-6
The future of the food system is often framed as a choice between a ‘conventional’ and an ‘alternative’ system of agriculture. This framing reflects a decades-long debate between opposing worldviews around agricultural paradigms, and it has constrained conversations regarding the creation of a sustainable global food system. Globally, agricultural production is diverse, and outcomes are achieved via a combination of several production systems. However, emerging technologies over the past 10 years are now being applied across agricultural systems resulting in enabling novel approaches to production. This paper explores the challenges and opportunities of integrating emerging technologies and food production approaches (e.g., digital agriculture, genomic innovations, cellular agriculture, hydroponic farming) and coupling these with industrial and urban design principles (e.g., industrial ecology, mixed-use densification). We characterize a high-yield, local (HYL) agriculture approach, which involves shorter supply chains, decentralized control of the food system, and potentially reduced land use as well as a lower environmental footprint. The paper concludes with a discussion on how the HYL approach will vary depending on the geographical and place-based contexts in which it is implemented. It identifies key policy opportunities and considerations for ensuring HYL agriculture can support transitions to sustainable food systems, including climate change mitigation, habitat and biodiversity conservation, safety and nutrition standards, public communications, and labour and economy., resulting in a novel element to be incorporated into the ‘portfolio’ of agricultural strategies.