Mary Ellen Kuhn

Mary Ellen Kuhn

Seeding the Future logoThree winners of the Seeding the Future Global Food System Challenge shared their stories and visions for creating a better world in a featured session at IFT FIRST.

Launched last year and funded by the Seeding the Future Foundation in partnership with IFT, the Global Food System Challenge awarded more than $1 million to support endeavors designed to help transform the food system.

The Challenge focuses on projects that target what Bernhard van Lengerich, who established the foundation, described as the “innovation white space” at the intersection of three domains: safe, nutritious food; sustainable, regenerative practices; and affordable products that consumers trust. “Our moonshot goal is to positively impact the lives of one billion people,” said van Lengerich, describing his aspirations for the foundation.

In its first year, the Challenge drew nearly 900 applications from startups, research institutions, and nonprofit groups from more than 60 countries, and competition judges selected 14 award winners to fund, van Lengerich said.

Here’s a quick look at the projects highlighted by panelists at the IFT FIRST featured session “What Got Us Here Won’t Get Us There: Innovation as Key to the Future of Food.”

Developing a strain of rice that resists absorption of arsenic, a common contaminant in rice-growing regions in Asia, earned the International Rice Research Institute a Grand Prize in the Challenge. The grant will allow the organization to work toward expanding availability of the rice, said panelist Jauhar Ali, head of the Hybrid Rice Development Consortium and leader, Hybrid Rice Technologies for the Seed Industry Unit at the institute.

Rice is a dietary stable in Asia, and arsenic contamination is a major problem in many regions because the crop requires irrigation by water that can’t be filtered for the heavy metal. Arsenic poisoning is associated with negative health consequences ranging from premature births to cancer.

Panelist Ertharin Cousin, CEO and founder of Food Systems for the Future, which earned a Global Food System Challenge Growth Grant for a project with Afya Feed, told the audience at IFT FIRST about the impact that effort is having in Rwanda. The project involves building a facility to produce poultry feed from black soldier fly larvae, which provides a cost-effective alternative to using soy in animal feed.

“This is a sustainable solution,” said Cousin. Soy is a valuable human protein source in Rwanda, where many pregnant women and young children are malnourished and suffer from inadequate protein intake, she explained. Further enhancing the project is the fact that the production facility will use food waste as feedstock for the black soldier flies.

Linda Pfeiffer, president & CEO, INMED Partnerships for Children, an international nonprofit humanitarian group chosen as a Seed Grant recipient in the Global Food System Challenge, said the grant supports the organization’s innovative aquaponics program. INMED Aquaponics is working to implement a combined hydroponics and aquaculture agricultural production system in vulnerable communities.

“This grant has allowed us to start an aquaponics hub in an Indigenous region of the Amazon,” said Pfeiffer, adding that INMED currently has aquaponics installations under development in Peru, Jamaica, and South Africa in addition to the one in the Amazon region. Where the program has been implemented, it operates as a social enterprise model, helping to provide incomes to those in need and improving food security.

About the Author

Mary Ellen Kuhn is executive editor of Food Technology magazine ([email protected]).
Mary Ellen Kuhn

Digital Exclusives right arrow

Hidden Opportunities in the Processed Foods Debate

Criticism of processed foods is not new. However, until recently, the finger-pointing was placed squarely on a specific ingredient or nutrient: too much sugar, too much fat, not enough protein.

White House Conference Introduces, Explores Ideas for Fighting Hunger and Diet-Related Illnesses

U.S. President Joseph Biden opened the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health on September 28, with a look back at the first such event, hosted by President Nixon more than a half-century ago.

Supporting Physical Activity Starts at Youth

Panelists discussed the importance of introducing sports to young children and breaking down barriers to access at the Sept. 28 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health.

WHC Panels Explore Benefits, Barriers to Food as Medicine

A core theme at last week’s White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health was the need to develop policies that more intimately tie nutrition and food security to healthcare—both as preventative and treatment measures.

Food Technology Articles right arrow

Hot, Hot, Hot: Spices and Seasonings

A visually oriented overview of spice and seasoning ingredient trends.

Better Baking With Quinoa

Research by Washington State University’s Girish Ganjyal has identified the percentage of quinoa flour that is optimal in baked goods formulation.

From Family Recipe to Retail Shelf

Family restaurant owner Dane Carder navigates the hurdles to bring his grandfather’s spaghetti sauce to U.S. grocery stores

Recent Brain Food right arrow

A New Day at the FDA

IFT weighs in on the agency’s future in the wake of the Reagan-Udall Report and FDA Commissioner Califf’s response.

Members Say IFT Offers Everything You Need to Prepare for an Uncertain Future

Learn how IFT boosts connections, efficiencies, and inspiration for its members.

More on the FDA's Food Traceability Final Rule

In a new white paper, our experts examine the FDA’s Food Traceability Final Rule implications—and its novel concepts first proposed by IFT.