Spotted: Researchers from Cornell University propose a solution to the global mismatch between food production and population needs. Using seawater-fed aquaculture farms, microalgae could be produced by multiple countries in the Global South in total quantities that exceed the projected protein needs of the growing population in 2050. The farms have significant potential for halting the climate crisis as well as feeding the world’s communities.
If developed, the food produced by the microalgae farms would be enough to remove the current pressure on traditional, land-based agriculture to produce more, which in turn reduces the incentive for communities to deforest land crucial to maintaining the world’s carbon sinks. As the need for traditionally grown agricultural products decline, farmers require fewer pesticides and fertilisers, thereby reducing water pollution.
If microalgae become more of a dietary staple, they could improve the health of almost everyone’s diets because of the high levels of essential amino acids, antioxidants, vitamins, and other minerals that they contain. Cultivating the crop in the global south has the potential to lift many communities out of poverty, enlarging the global economy.
The farms also have additional benefits such as their ability to act as carbon sinks and to provide higher-quality feed for farm animals. Further research and substantial investments in the technologies are now necessary to make this potentially world-changing concept a reality.
Springwise has been tracking the development of alternative proteins and growing methods for years, with recent innovations including plans for the world’s largest vertical farm and insect protein for livestock that does double-duty as an organic waste digester.
Written By: Keely Khoury