Regenerative food system lauded at city forum

Regenerative food system lauded at city forum

Santi Abakaz, CEO and co-founder of Tastebud Lab and Bio Buddy, left, gives a speech on the food system of the future, among other speakers on the stage, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Wednesday. (Photo: PORAMET TANGSATHAPORN)
Santi Abakaz, CEO and co-founder of Tastebud Lab and Bio Buddy, left, gives a speech on the food system of the future, among other speakers on the stage, at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center on Wednesday. (Photo: PORAMET TANGSATHAPORN)

A regenerative food system is the best way to create a sustainable food supply, a forum was told this week.

Tastebud Lab and Bio Buddy held a "Future Food System Synergies by Tastebud Lab" discussion and workshops at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center (QSNCC) on Wednesday.

This was part of the "Asean-Asset 2023: Global Summit on the Future of Future Food -- Global Protein Integrity" event, jointly organised from Tuesday to Wednesday by the International Joint Research Center on Food Security; the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology at the National Science and Technology Development Agency; the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation; Queen's University Belfast from the United Kingdom; the Development Research and Innovation (PMU-B) Department at Thammasat University; and the Thai Academy of Science and Technology.

Santi Abakaz, Tastebud Lab and Bio Buddy CEO and co-founder, said the food industry employs the most workers, or around 60-70% of workers globally. Those who work in the food industry are the lowest-paid workers compared to other sectors.

Also, food production, distribution and consumption is among the main contributors to greenhouse gases, accounting for 24-26% of global emissions, Mr Santi said.

"We need to look in a systematic way at the value chain to solve the problem," he said.

"Yes, we already have bright ideas such as solutions to problems of livestock and fisheries through plant-based food, insect proteins, mushrooms, cellular culture, cultured meat, novel food and so on. But that is just beginning in our efforts to solve the problem and tackle the problem in our food system," he added.

There are still issues of inefficiency in food production, as well as a need to reduce food waste and make better use of it in the circular economy, Mr Santi said.

Another way to tackle food system-related problems would be to throw more support behind regenerative food systems, he said.

This is a way of producing food that does not harm the environment but rather restores the planet and helps society.

"We have been talking a lot about how to stop or slow down the climate crisis, but instead of slowing it down, why don't we talk about resilience or restoration?" Mr Santi asked.

"So, the very concept of regenerative food and food systems is really to understand the core idea of life, including different forms of life like microorganisms and living organisms.

"[We need to] understand each other and make an ecosystem, environment and food systems that complement each other. That is the core idea of regenerative food."

Rungphech Chitanuwatm, the regional portfolio director for Asean at Informa Markets, highlighted the importance of having a strong local food system.

It would be better, she said, if farmers had access to the technology that can make their products more valuable, rather than selling them as fresh goods in local markets.

"The question is how to help the locals supply more of their products to major food producers, rather than selling them as merely commodities or goods," she said.

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