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Food and Agriculture


Analysis and insight on the future of food and agriculture. Stay updated as Singularity Hub discusses the most important trends impacting agriculture.

Singularity Surplus: Other News in Exponential Sci/Tech From the Week

Potential treatment for deadly brain cancer; climate change shrinks crops; banking your own stem cells just in case.

IBM Markets Watson as Potential Solution to Africa’s Health and Education Woes

IBM recently announced that it will invest in a research program in Africa to improve water and sanitation, agriculture, healthcare and education on the continent using its artificial intelligence platform, Watson.

Amid a Debate That’s Hot As Ever, General Mills Says No GMOs in Its Cold Cheerios

General Mills recently announced they’ll make one their most recognizable breakfast cereals, Cheerios, free of genetically modified ingredients. The controversy surrounding GMOs is, of course, closely related to many of the technologies we cover at Singularity Hub. Fear of genetically modified crops may only be the tip of the iceberg, as biotech moves into the more fraught territory of genetic engineering and therapies in animals and eventually humans.

Burritobox Joins Growing Number of Fast-Food Making Robots

Box Brands has launched the first-ever burrito-making robots at two locations on Santa Monica Boulevard — inside Mobile and 76 gas stations. The orange Burritobox offers 6 types of burrito, including a breakfast burrito, and several sauces. The customer selects the burrito s/he wants and which sauces from a touch-screen menu, then swipes a credit card. One minute later, the machine dispenses a hot “hand”-rolled burrito. Gas-station quality burritos may not be the sexiest use of automation technology, but the Burritobox joins a growing number of fast food-making robots.

New Study: Daily Multivitamins, Supplements ‘A Waste Of Money’

One of the few nutritional recommendations that most doctors seemed to agree with — take a daily multivitamin to plug any gaps in your diet — is facing a serious challenge in the Annals of Internal Medicine. The journal’s current issue features two studies and a meta-analysis which all conclude that multivitamins don’t deliver any significant health benefits.

Handheld Device TellSpec Can Detect Allergens, Chemicals, and Nutrients In Food

A hand-held spectrometer pioneered by Toronto-based TellSpec that can determine exactly what is in the user’s food and display it on his or her smartphone. The idea for the device came from co-founder Isabel Hoffman’s daughter, who suffers from gluten intolerance and other food allergies.

Eat Nuts, Live Longer? Study Says Yes

To live longer and healthier, the best current advice is exercise, maintain healthy weight and eat dark leafy greens. But we're likely to increasingly see eating nuts included in that list. Those who ate nuts nearly every day were 20 percent less likely to die in the course of two 30-year cohort studies. Nut eaters were almost 30 percent less likely to die of heart disease and more than 10 percent less likely to die of cancer than those who never at them.

Spain Considers Release Of Genetically Modified Fruit Flies, Controversy Simmers

Medical uses of genetic technology are well received. But agricultural uses are a different story, generating controversy at every turn. In the United States, where genetically modified strains dominate the most common crops, fights have...

A Vertical Forest Is Growing in the Middle of One of Europe’s Dirtiest Cities

Denizens of Florence, Italy will have a brand new 2.5 acre forest smack in the middle of their city by the end of 2013. You might think that’s a city with its priorities straight. But the forest didn’t require the sacrifice of precious commercial real estate—it’s of the vertical variety. Brainchild of Italian architecture firm, Stefano Boeri Architetti, the Bosco Verticale (literally, “vertical forest” in English) is two residential apartment buildings peppered with cantilevered terraces. Each terrace is specially designed and engineered to support a small community of trees, shrubs, and other greenery.

Harvest Automation Brings Affordable Robotics to Big Ag

Harvest Automation has built a robot to do something not especially difficult or sexy: move potted plants around in nurseries and greenhouses. It’s a task the company decided to tackle with its first robot, dubbed Harvey, not because humans can’t do it, but because they don’t.

Panel Tastes Lab-Grown Burger Made of Cultured Beef and Backed by Sergey Brin

“If you were a hotdog, would ya eat yourself?” That’s Will Ferrell as Harry Caray contemplating some of life’s deeper ethical questions. Here’s another more realistic one, “If your ballpark burger were grown in a petri dish, would you eat it?” A food writer, a food researcher, and a scientist attempted to answer that question Monday when they tasted a lab-made burger at a press event in London. The burger itself was grown in about three months, but the technology behind it took $XX and about five years to develop.

Monsanto Unapproved GMO Wheat Escapes From The Lab, Lawsuits Follow

Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, recently reported the finding of unapproved genetically modified wheat in an Oregon field—and nobody knows where it came from. This is of concern, especially to farmers, but raises a larger question too. If genetic modification is the future, how will we control our creations?

Drones Close In On Farms, The Next Step In Precision Agriculture

Drones continue their steady approach into the different aspects of our lives. But while controversy rages over drone devastation over foreign soil and prying surveillance over US soil, experts are beginning to point our attention to the real future of unmanned aerial vehicles: farming.

Robot Serves Up 360 Hamburgers Per Hour

UPDATE: To read more about how workers will be affected by automation technology, check out Hub's follow up post Burger Robot Poised to Disrupt Fast Food Industry No longer will they say, “He’s going to...

Towers Of Vegetables Go Up As Singapore Builds First Vertical Farm

Short on arable land? One solution would be to plant…up. Singapore, a small country that imports most of its food, has now begun selling vegetables from its first vertical farm. And even while they’re...

Next Up For Robotic Automation: Serving Pizza Untouched By Human Hands

Anyone squeamish during the Seinfeld episode when Poppy is kneading pizza dough after failing to wash his hands in the restroom finally has a convenient place they can buy fresh pizza "untouched by human...
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More Robots, Less Farmers – Company Installs 12,500th Robotic Cow Milking System

A decreasing number of farmers are getting their hands dirty, lest they gunk up their smartphone. Dutch maker of farming technologies, Lely, recently installed their 12,500th cow-milking robot. That means that hundreds of thousands...

Lab-Grown Burger To Be Served In Six Months

A number of laboratories around the world are trying to grow meat in a Petri dish. So far we’ve heard about clumps of cells grown from stem cells with the hope that those cells...
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The Battle Over Genetically Modified Food Continues – FDA Petitioned To Require GM Labels

Okay, think fast: how often do you eat genetically modified foods? *buzzer* I'm sorry, but the answer we were looking for is: “no one knows!”. Current FDA regulations don't require food companies in the...

Transforming Shipping Containers Into Local Farms – PodPonics Brings Produce to the City

Urban agriculture has a new hope, and its name is PodPonics. Based in Atlanta, the startup is pursuing a new kind of recycling: transform old shipping containers into miniature hydroponic farms that can be...
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Dutch PlantLab Revolutionizes Farming: No Sunlight, No Windows, Less Water, Better Food

You've heard of paint by numbers? Get ready for feed-the-world by numbers. Dutch agricultural company PlantLab wants to change almost everything you know about growing plants. Instead of outdoors, they want farms to be...
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Organic Farmers Unite Against Monsanto In Battle For Future of Food

Another chapter in the ongoing David-and-Goliath-esque saga between organic farmers and the Monsanto Company kicked off recently with a lawsuit filed in federal court. The suit, titled Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et...

Future of Genetically Modified Rice/Corn in China May Be Both Certain and Delayed

Even as China rushes to expand its crops to feed its growing populace, it faces regulatory snags and pitfalls. The State Council recently discussed efforts to innovate China's industrial agriculture while keeping it independent...

Japan’s Robot Picks Only the Ripest Strawberries (video)

It takes more than a green thumb to be a great farmer, super-human vision helps as well. The Institute of Agricultural Machinery at Japan's National Agriculture and Food Research Organization, along with SI Seiko,...

Genetically Modified Salmon Could Be On Your Plate Soon

This past Sunday (September 19th) the US FDA held one of the final meetings needed to approve genetically modified salmon for human consumption. If approved, the salmon would be the first transgenic animal available...

“Corn Sugar” And Lame Attempts To Mislead You About Food

High fructose corn syrup could soon be known as 'corn sugar'. The Corn Refiners Association in the US has been on a media campaign recently, aiming at changing the way the public views high...

Sweet Little Lies – The Bitter Truth About Sugar

The world is hooked on sugar. Ray Kurzweil calls it the “White Satan.” And he might be onto something. The futurist guru has found overwhelming evidencethat consuming refined sugar is linked to cardiovascular disease, obesity,...

Will Fat Secret Become Wikipedia of Nutrition with New API?

One day we are told that eating fats makes us fat. The next day we learn that carbs are made from pure evil, and that fats are angel tears. It's hard to keep track...

The Genetically Modified Food You Eat

Would you eat food that was genetically modified? You probably already have. Scientists have been tinkering with the DNA of commercial food for nearly two decades, and they've covered most of the food pyramid. ...

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