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Future food: health and sustainability



The Royal Society, London, 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London, SW1Y 5AG


Carlton House Terrace

This conference held by the Royal Society will bring together leading experts from industry, government and the wider scientific community to discuss the future of food sources and the human diet in decades to come.

The conference will focus on two broad themes: the sustainability and health benefits of plant-based foods, and the application of synthetic biology in food production. The UK’s current standing in terms of food research, technical challenges, changing consumer preferences and public perception, safety and ethical issues, and the regulation of genome edited products will also be explored.

Attending this event

This open event is free to attend and is intended for those with an interest in food security and novel food technologies, from a variety of backgrounds including academia, industry, government, as well as regulatory and other scientific bodies.

Contact the Industry team for more information.

About the conference series

This meeting forms part of the Royal Society’s Transforming our Future series. The Transforming our Future meetings are unique, high-level events that address scientific and technical challenges of the next decade and bring together leading experts from wider scientific community, industry, government and charities.

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Event organisers

Select an organiser for more information

Schedule of talks

12 December


Registration and refreshments


Welcome remarks


Session 1: Sustainability and the benefits of reducing animal-based food production

3 talks Show detail Hide detail


Professor Cathie Martin FRS, Group Leader, John Innes Centre and Professor of Plant Sciences, University of East Anglia, UK

09:30-10:00 The role of plant-centric dietary patterns

Dr Walter C Willett, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Show speakers

10:00-10:30 Sustainability and land use – benefits of reducing animal-based food production

10:30-11:00 A commercial view – who is investing where? What are the technology trends?

Benjamin M. Theurer, Director - Americas Equity Research, Barclays

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Refreshments and networking


Session 2: Plant-based protein alternatives

3 talks Show detail Hide detail


Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, Founder, Genius Foods and Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, UK

11:35-12:05 Plant-based meat alternatives

12:05-12:35 The technical challenges of delivering vegan products in a meat-free environment in a sustainable manner

Dr Muyiwa Akintoye, Head of R&D Quorn Foods


We are facing one of the biggest global issues of our time. With the world’s population estimated to reach 9 billion by 2050, we need to find ways of ensuring that we can feed people without severely damaging the planet in the process. The effect of meat on the planet is receiving almost weekly coverage in the UK. The UK market has dramatically changed over the last 12 months.

Vegan Innovation is the biggest driver in Meat Free and the SKU count has increased by +126 (net). As most of these are targeted at people who have a predominantly meat-based diet, the challenge remains of trying to deliver a similar eating experience but using plant based ingredients. The discussion will centre around what these challenges are and what Quorn Foods is doing technically and scientifically to overcome them.

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12:35-12:55 Vegetable protein to replace eggs

Dr Lydia Campbell, Food Science Lecturer, School of Life Sciences, Heriot Watt University

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Lunch, networking and food demonstration


Session 3: Synthetic biology approaches to food production

5 talks Show detail Hide detail


Dr Stephen Chambers, Founding Partner, Subsero and Royal Society Entrepreneur in Residence, UK

14:05-14:35 Microbial fermentation to produce egg and milk protein

Jason Kakoyiannis, Corporate Development, Ginkgo Bioworks and Board Member, Motif Foodworks

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14:35-14:55 Swimming against the tide – optimising the accumulation of omega-3 LC-PUFAs in transgenic Camelina seed oils for use in aquaculture

Professor Jonathan Napier, Flagship Leader, Rothamsted Research


We have been evaluating the possibility of producing omega-3 LC-PUFAs in different transgenic hosts, to provide a sustainable source of these important nutrients, with a specific interest in producing de novo these health-beneficial fatty acids independent of oceanic sources. Attempts to metabolically engineer plants with the primary algal biosynthetic pathway for LC-PUFAs has been successfully carried out in a range of species and leading to the production of a transgenic oilseed crop (Camelina sativa) which contains over 30% omega-3 LC-PUFAs in its seed oil. We have carried out field trials in Europe and N. America and also evaluated the use of GM Camelina seed oil as a replacement for fish oil in aquafeed diets, observing effective substitution in feeds for salmon and sea bream. Collectively, these data confirm the original potential of using transgenic plants to make omega-3 fish oils. However, many challenges beyond the laboratory remain to ensure this innovation delivers for the public good.

Show speakers

14:55-15:15 TBC

15:15-15:35 TBC

15:35-15:55 TBC


Refreshments and networking


Panel session: Regulation, ethical issues, changing consumer preferences and public perception

1 talk Show detail Hide detail


Professor Wendy Russell, Gut Health Theme Lead & Professor of Molecular Nutrition, University of Aberdeen Rowett Institute

Ernesto Schmitt, Co-Founder & Arch Crafter, The Craftory
Dr Andreas Sewing, Head of Research and Development (Vegetable Seeds), BASF
Helen Munday, Chief Scientific Officer, Food and Drink Federation
Professor Chris Elliott, OBE, Institute for Global Food Security, Queen’s University Belfast

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Drinks reception

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Future food: health and sustainability

Bringing together leading experts from industry, government and the wider scientific community to discuss the future of food sources and the human diet.


The Royal Society, London 6-9 Carlton House Terrace London SW1Y 5AG UK
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