Three academic experts from Asia, Europe, and the United States address the complexity of food systems during the 2016 AAAS Annual Meeting in Washington D.C. Applying resilience thinking to food systems is a novel concept pioneered at ETH Zurich, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.
Researchers demonstrate how to build resilience into existing food systems creating a higher level of food security using decision making models, big data, and information technology. Collaboration between industry, food innovators, and all those along the food value chain fosters resilience into the world's food systems vital for dealing with the consequences of mass migration into urban areas that is taking place in many parts of the world.
Johan Six, Professor of Sustainable Agroecosystems, ETH Zurich, The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland tackles the complexity of the world's food systems. Intrinsically complex, food systems are difficult to predict and manage. Comprising of different processes, value chains, actors and interactions, their outcomes affect multiple stakeholders and sectors in diverse and conflicting ways. Rather than trying to optimize individual components for specific risks, Six demonstrates how to improve the general resilience of food systems, with an approach that supports decision-making in practice and extends the resilience mind-set of stakeholders.
About half of the fruit and vegetables consumed in the United States are produced in California in an agricultural region that, as the recent 4-year drought has shown, is highly vulnerable to the disruption of irrigation water supply. Thomas P. Tomich, WK Kellogg Endowed Chair in Sustainable Food Systems at University of California, Davis, the top-ranked agricultural research university in the world, explores how new information technology and a data-flooded business environment will impact food and agriculture. He demonstrates how information technology supports the formation of an ecosystem between industry, investors, start-ups, and food innovators.