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12 Mar 2020

The small Dutch town of Wageningen is at the forefront of developing new methods and technologies to help feed a growing planet.

In the low-lying Gelderse Valley some 85km east of Amsterdam, a Dutch university is changing how humans eat. The Wageningen University has become a hotbed of research into different ways that technology can help feed a growing population, requiring 56% more food, sustainably.

The Guardian conducted a fascinating article on the University, focusing on all the work that is being conducted there by faculty and staff.

Journalist Vidhi Doshi comments, "Walking around Wageningen, I am struck at how the town has compartmentalised the angst and suffering of the war in a small museum in its cobbled old quarter. The futuristic Wageningen next door is unsentimental and solution-focused. Its glossy, modernist buildings architecturally distance the lingering emotion of Europe’s history, and invite in only reason and logic. Big money propels Wageningen’s new swagger. Sleek corporate buildings of companies such as Unilever and Dutch dairy giant FrieslandCampina blend seamlessly into the campus architecture and the old university town has rebranded as “Food Valley” – a shiny agri-tech mecca with one big goal: shaping the future of food."

"This mission-driven Wageningen is providing dazzling solutions to humanity’s impending food supply problem. As an example, one of the university’s star scientists Leo Marcellis is pioneering new vertical farming techniques as a possible solution to producing more food without using more land. Marcellis grows plants in tiered shelves inside highly monitored labs. The potential of this innovation is immense, he says, conjuring skyscrapers of herbs and abandoned buildings stacked with vegetable farms. But there is a small-print environmental cost attached, Marcellis admits. His vertical farms require huge inputs of artificial light, and are partially funded by Philips, the lightbulb manufacturer. Marcellis’ land-saving vertical farms, it emerges, will require quite a lot of lightbulbs."

Read the full article here