As Ibm announces every year the five forecasts of scientific and technological innovations that will change the world over the next five years.

This year’s events, presented at the Think 2019 in San Francisco, concern the food chain.

This is an issue that has been affected in recent years by the most important technological changes in place (artificial intelligence, blockchain, IoT, cloud) with important consequences, given the demand for greater sustainability due to the growing global demand for food and food.

The five innovations of Ibm, presented during the Think 2019 of San Francisco, cover all the phases of the food chain supply.

The seed, with the possibility of creating twin seeds that help to satisfy the food needs of the planet, using less resources.

The harvest, which thanks to the combination of blockchain technologies, Internet of things and artificial intelligence algorithms will allow to adapt the supply to demand, limiting waste.

Packaging, where an innovative recycling process will give new life to the used plastic.

The shelf, on which thanks to innovative tests we will find products more protected from bacteria and contamination.

The board, on which sensors based on artificial intelligence will be able to detect pathogens of food origin.

The thirty innovations born from research

Sustainability through technology

Over the next five years, Ibm claims by quoting Our World in Data data, the world population will for the first time exceed the 8 billion threshold, increasing by 45% compared to today.

Result: The balance of our food chain, already proven by climate change and limited availability of water resources, will be further tested.

Ensuring food and water will be increasingly a challenge: to win it we will need to re-design the current models with which we manage health, physical safety and food. In this the role of technology is and will be fundamental.

To make every stage of the food chain safer, smarter and more sustainable, Ibm researchers have developed five technological innovations to remodel our society over the next five years, based on the combination of different scientific disciplines.

Technology promotes more effective and efficient responses to these issues through new artificial intelligence algorithms, cloud-connected devices, advances in chemistry and microbiology, as well as completely new ways of considering food safety.

The five transformations of the food chain supply

Twinning, the application of the virtual digital twin model to agriculture will help feed the growing population with less resources.

The arable land we have must be used more efficiently: half of farmers around the world suffer losses every year after harvest due to unsatisfactory sowing practices. A digital twin of arable land and agricultural resources accessible to all (farmers, suppliers of agricultural equipment, food distributors, agricultural and health departments and humanitarian organisations) could generate an economy that can share resources and capacities in addition to allowing productivity to increase Pursuing the objective of a lower impact on the environment.

Blockchain technology will avoid food waste.

The deterioration of food is a global threat: about a third of what is produced worldwide for human consumption is lost or wasted. Almost half of the fruits and vegetables grown do not come on our tables but soon, within five years, we will be able to eliminate many of the expensive inefficiencies of the current supply chain of the sector. Thanks to the combined use of blockchain, IoT and artificial intelligence technologies, it will be possible for farmers and suppliers to know exactly how much to grow or order to meet demand.

On the shelves, the mapping of microbiome will protect us from harmful bacteria.

Each year, food – source diseases account for $9 billion in medical expenses and $75 billion in calls and destroyed food. Also, they cause 128,000 admissions and 3,000 deaths every year, only in the United States. In five years’ time, food safety inspectors will be able to identify the dangerous pathogens found in food long before they become harmful to humans. This rapidly evolving field, between big data and microbiology, is based on the technology of next generation sequencing, (NGS), which researchers are using to collect a reference database thanks to a partnership called Consortium for Sequencing the

Artificial intelligence sensors will detect foodborne pathogens in homes.

Within five years, farmers, processors, food distributors, but also potentially every cook, will be able to detect without any problems the presence of dangerous contaminants in food. A mobile phone or a support plan, such as a cutting board, with sensors enhanced by artificial intelligence, will suffice. These detectors could greatly speed up the tests by completing them in few senses instead of in days as it happens now, thus allowing all the subjects involved in the food chain to detect any contamination. For example, the dangerous salmonella Escherichia coli would be detected before an outbreak of the disease.

VolCat, an innovative recycling process will give new life to the used plastic.

Each year, some 272 million tons of plastic are produced (Ibm cites sources of Science Advances), of which about 68 million are PET (Richard Turner, Virginia Tech). Half of all the plastic produced becomes garbage in less than a year and it is estimated that it takes more than 400 years to degrade. It is therefore essential to change the trend: within five years researchers tell us that the process from waste disposal to the creation of new plastic objects will be completely transformed. All objects of common use, such as milk containers, shopping bags or envelopes, will be recyclable and transformable into something useful. This step will be made possible by innovations such as VolCat, a catalytic chemical process that transforms some plastic materials (called polyesters) into a substance that can be directly reused by the processing companies.

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