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Biotech, nanotech and synthetic biology roles in future food supply explored
Date:2/21/2010

SAN DIEGO - Some say the world's population will swell to 9 billion people by 2030 and that will present significant challenges for agriculture to provide enough food to meet demand, says University of Idaho animal scientist Rod Hill.

Hill and Larry Branen, a University of Idaho food scientist, organized a symposium during the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting Sunday to explore ways biotechnology could provide healthy and plentiful animal-based foods to meet future demands.

Synthetic biology, nanotechnology, genetic engineering and other applications of biotechnology and the public's role in determining their acceptable uses -- were all addressed by panelists during the session.

The goal for the session, which was part of the nation's largest and most prestigious general science meeting held annually, was to encourage a dialogue among scientists and the public, said Hill, a Moscow-based molecular physiologist who studies muscle growth in cattle.

"There will be a significant challenge for agriculture and the science that will be required to provide a healthy, nutritious and adequate food supply in coming decades for a rapidly growing population," Hill said.

A key question, he said, is whether the Earth can continue to provide enough food without technological support. The history of civilization and agriculture during the last 10,000 years suggests otherwise.

"Unaided food production is an unattainable ideal current society is irrevocably grounded in the technological interventions underpinning the agricultural revolution that now strives to feed the world," Hill said.

Branen serves as the university's Coeur d'Alene-based associate vice president for northern Idaho. He also remains active as a researcher working with nanotechnology in a variety of ways, including uses as biological sensors to detect disease or spoilage.

Nanoparticles may be used to target certain genes and thus play a role in gene
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Contact: Bill Loftus
bloftus@uidaho.edu
208-301-3566
University of Idaho
Source:Eurekalert

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