Researchers explore role of protein-dense microalgae to increase global food production

To help increase food production by more than 50% and feed a projected 10 billion people by 2050

New research by Cornell University, US describes how growing algae onshore could close a projected gap in society’s future nutritional demands while also improving environmental sustainability.

“We have an opportunity to grow food that is highly nutritious, fast-growing, and we can do it in environments where we’re not competing for other uses. And because we’re growing it in relatively enclosed and controlled facilities, we don’t have the same kind of environmental impacts”, says the researchers.

With wild fish stocks already heavily exploited, and with constraints on marine finfish, shellfish, and seaweed aquaculture in the coastal ocean, researchers argue for growing algae in onshore aquaculture facilities. GIS-based models predict yields based on annual sunlight, topography, and other environmental and logistical factors. The model results reveal that the best locations for onshore algae farming facilities lie along the coasts of the Global South, including desert environments.

“Algae can actually become the breadbasket for the Global South. In that narrow strip of land, we can produce more than all the protein that the world will need”, the researchers indicate.

Along with high protein content, the researchers noted that algae provide nutrients lacking in vegetarian diets, such as essential amino acids and minerals found in meat and omega-3 fatty acids often sourced in fish and seafood.

Image credit- shutterstock

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