17:10 - 17:45
The Future of Food Culture: Turning From Agribusiness to Bioart & Biodesign

Short thesis

Our current dominant food system is based, to a large extent, on the growth of modern agribusiness – with disastrous effects. It is estimated that agribusiness as one of the world's largest manufacturing sectors, is contributing about 37% of total greenhouse gas emissions. In perspective of our food security in times of a growing world population and a current epic loss of biodiversity, it is high time to carefully consider how to grow our food in the future.


As the number of pollinators such as bees and moths steadily decrease due to climate change, GMO production and chemical toxicity, the future of food production is in a suspended state. Without pollinators there would be no honey, apples, tea and even agave, which is employed to produce tequila. Currently, due to climate change strawberries are being grown in Greenland as well as lettuce and cabbage as the polar ice melts. Many indoor farming companies are emerging in order to control environmental factors such as temperature, lighting and humidity in which to grow plants.

For more than three decades artists and designers are responding in diverse and innovative ways to how we will eat tomorrow. New York City based bioartist Suzanne Anker is working with LED lighting systems to move agriculture indoors. Red and blue LED lights, which are responsible for the part of the visible spectrum that creates photosynthesis in plants, is being employed. Constructed with off-the-shelf parts, consumers can grow their own vegetables at home, regardless of the light sources in their dwelling. LED lights also reduce carbon emissions in contrast to other electrical systems.

Astroculture, a living art installation, has been exhibited at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, the Daejon Biennale in Korea and the abandoned rice Silos in Houston, Texas. This artwork has had various responses from the public ranging from disbelief to awe to complaints that these plants are growing unnaturally. Seed banks, especially the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard, Norway, are intended to act as a seed embryo archive as an attempt to restore agricultural products for our food supply as the effects of climate change accelerate. Of course, seed banks store seeds ex situ and may not respond to their environments in the same fashion as when they are stored or dispersed in situ. Add to the mix bio-piracy, the patenting of seeds and issues concerning invasive species: what is in store for the future of food?