Opportunities to produce food from substantially less land

24 June 2024

BMC Biology

Godfray, H.C.J., Poore, J. & Ritchie, H. Opportunities to produce food from substantially less land. BMC Biol 22, 138 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12915-024-01936-8

View Journal Article / Working Paper

The vast majority of the food we eat comes from land-based agriculture, but recent technological advances in agriculture and food technology offer the prospect of producing food using substantially less or even virtually no land. For example, indoor vertical farming can achieve very high yields of certain crops with a very small area footprint, and some foods can be synthesized from inorganic precursors in industrial facilities. Animal-based foods require substantial land per unit of protein or per calorie and switching to alternatives could reduce demand for some types of agricultural land. Plant-based meat substitutes and those produced through fermentation are widely available and becoming more sophisticated while in the future cellular agricultural may become technically and economical viable at scale. We review the state of play of these potentially disruptive technologies and explore how they may interact with other factors, both endogenous and exogenous to the food system, to affect future demand for land.