Myth: The new modern food system will be centralized and corporation owned, just like the pharmaceutical industry

 |  6 May 2024

Emerging technologies have the potential to create a distributed, open-source, low-cost food system where entrepreneurs anywhere can design and produce foods with relatively low barriers to entry.

However, a disruption that realizes all the potential benefits is not a foregone conclusion.

The key agents of change in this disruption are policymakers, investors, businesses and consumers. The choices these groups make influence each other and affect the speed of adoption of modern food technologies and the disruption of industrial agriculture. Their choices will determine whether society can seize the full potential benefits of this disruption and avoid negative outcomes.

Some key suggestions to avoid these negative outcomes include:

  • Allow companies to patent production methods but not life, genes or molecules–intellectual property regimes should be process focused rather than output focused. This will encourage innovators to develop technology, including open-source platforms and molecular, cellular and biological system databases.

  • Avoid following the pharmaceutical model when implementing IP regimes because, unlike drug development, the cost of product development via modern food production is already relatively low and falling fast.

  • Support the creation of open-source, transparent, collaborative networks–preferably international–to accelerate the pace of development.

  • Enable well-regulated markets but do not participate in or distort the food or agriculture business. For instance, today the U.S. government stockpiles 1.4 billion pounds of cheese that it pushes in the form of school lunches and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Explore the evidence...

Witness the transformation

We are on the cusp of the deepest, fastest, most consequential disruption in food and agricultural production since the first domestication of plants and animals 10,000 years ago. The new system is inevitable and ensures a production system that is completely decentralized and much more stable and resilient than industrial animal agriculture, with fermentation farms located in or close to towns and cities.

Learn more about the disruption and transformation of the food & agriculture sector.

Published on: 12/07/23

Continue exploring Food & Agriculture

Sign up to our Newsletter