While facing a rising world population, climate change, limited global resources and water shortages, one of the world’s central challenges of our time is to achieve and sustain food security. Although, a significant factor in achieving food security is sufficient crop yield, many other factors beyond plant biology are important. Thus, food security research is an excellent example of the need for interdisciplinary partnership of biological science with economics, social science, law, medicine and the humanities.
The aim of the thematically broad and interdisciplinary Competence Area “Food Security” is to foster such interdisciplinary partnerships. The Competence Area is one of six Competence Areas at the University of Cologne and part of the Institutional Strategy of the University. We build a strong interfaculty network at the University of Cologne, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, further universities, industry, politics, non-governmental organizations and research institutions. CEPLAS serves as the focal hub for CA. Apart of interdisciplinary workshops, international symposia, public lecture series, and promoting interdisciplinary research, CA intends to increase awareness of the multifaceted challenge of food security among students and pupils.
Speaker: Prof. Dr. Stanislav Kopriva, Botanical Institute
Coordinator: Dr. Dorit Grunewald, Botanical Institute
This Special Issue aims to contribute further knowledge and advancements on diverse aspects of food production to ensure food security. It collects contributions to the “1st Cologne Conference on Food for Future”, held in Cologne on 5–7 September 2018, and it is open to external submissions. In particular, we encourage contributions focused on three research areas:
Functional food: Quality and nutritional enhancement of crops.
Diets have become less diverse and 90% of the world´s calorie intake is provided by only 15 crops. Furthermore, the nutritional content of modern high-yield staples is declining, leading to deficiency diseases, particularly in developing countries, dependent on a few calorie-rich but nutritionally poor staple crops. To prevent these diseases, the improvement of the nutritional quality of staple crops is a promising approach. The population of developed countries could profit by improving the concentration of phytonutrients in their diet to reduce chronic diseases based on phytonutrient-poor diets.
Orphan crops: Potential of alternative crops for modern plant breeding.
Orphan, or underutilized, crops have not been the focus of plant breeders and farmers over the last century due to their limited importance in the global market. The fact that they are highly nutritious, resilient in natural and agricultural conditions and provide economic and environmental benefits for local farmers is drawing more and more attention to their high potential contribution to diversifying agricultural systems and food sources.
Innovative food sources and production systems.
The increasing demand for grains and meat in the next 30 years will require the search for alternative protein sources and more environmentally-sustainable, cost-effective production systems. Possible approaches are the more intensive use of insects or microalgae either for direct or indirect human consumption or as a protein source into feedstock mixtures, helping to make feedstock production more sustainable.
As part of the “Studium Integrale“-program at the University of Cologne, there will be a series of lectures on Food Security and Nutrition in the winter semester. The lecture series is open to all interested parties.
The conference report is available now.
The next "Cologne Conference on Food for Future" will be organized as a "Traveling Conference" in cooperation with the international offices of the University of Cologne.