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Evidence behind sustainable food technologies lacking

The 27th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change currently underway in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, includes dialogues on how food choices affect climate change, and recent years have seen more venture capital flowing into the eco-friendly food sector.

But new research in the journal Nature Food suggests there’s little evidence behind the sustainability claims of many food technologies.

“Sustainability” involves more than just carbon footprint; it means balancing environmental, economic and social impacts, too.

A review of scientific literature reveals a lack of research into many such facets.

Expensive plant-based substitutes reduce environmental impacts, but lack robust research on long-term nutritional aspects.

Vertical farms use less land and water, but often require more energy and emit more greenhouse gases.

The sustainability applications of largely energy-guzzling blockchain technologies remain purely theoretical.

The authors call for more research and a fuller framework for assessing sustainability.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.