3D food printers could help feed world’s poor

3D food printers have the potential to help end global famine, according to an influential academic.

The Australian reports that Vivek Wadhwa, vice-president of innovation and research at Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, believes 3D-printed meat could be important in the fight against hunger because its production will become much cheaper than is the case for real meat.

Wadhwa (pictured), who is currently visiting Australia, told the Australian that 3D-printed meat, made from synthesised protein strings will become viable in the next ten years.

“I wouldn’t want to eat the $US300,000 3D-printed hamburger (from The Netherlands) because it was (released) too early (in 2013),” Wadhwa said.

“But in five to seven years you’ll start seeing commercial prototypes of this technology and the quality will be quite good.”

He also predicted that, within 15 years, solar energy will be able to satisfy the world’s energy needs. It will also reduce energy costs and make vertical organic food production more economically viable.

Globally, over 800 million people are chronically food insecure. And according to estimates from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN, malnutrition costs the world $4 trillion in GDP.

Nick Haan, Director of Global Grand Challenges at Singularity University, told an audience at this year’s Summit Spain in Seville that world hunger should not be seen as ‘part of the human condition’. On the contrary, it can be eliminated.

Haan said that, apart from 3D printing, technologies such as the use of drones for agricultural monitoring and of micro/nano bots for pollination will have a role to play in famine reduction.

Image: wadhwa.com