Unlocking CO : A solution to global food insecurity and climate change?

January 18, 2024 | World Economic Forum

As the world grapples with escalating food insecurity and the urgent need to mitigate climate change, innovative solutions are emerging. CO₂, often viewed as a problematic gas contributing to global warming, could hold the key to transforming food production.

A groundbreaking international consortium, co-funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and spearheaded by Novozymes and the Novo Nordisk Foundation, aims to harness CO₂ to produce proteins for human consumption without using agricultural land. Through fermentation techniques, captured CO₂ is converted to acetate, which feeds microbes to produce protein.

Scaling up these technologies could potentially provide enough protein for over 1 billion people annually, particularly benefiting areas with limited agricultural potential. However, regulatory hurdles pose a significant challenge to bringing these innovations to market.

In the European Union, lengthy approval processes for novel foods and agricultural biosolutions hinder progress, contrasting with faster approvals in regions like the US and Singapore. Urgent calls are directed at policymakers to streamline regulatory frameworks and support the transition to sustainable food and agriculture, emphasizing that decisions made now will shape our collective future.