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High-tech solutions

New technologies have enabled us to biochemically produce food from some unlikely sources. In an extreme food supply shock, it could be useful to apply methods that allow us to obtain calories and nutrients from sources which don’t normally produce food. These could include plant fiber, CO₂, and potentially even resources typically considered fuels, such as natural gas or petroleum.

Today we know how to produce high-quality protein from natural gas or CO₂ and sugar from forest biomass. Since they are chiefly independent of food trade or agriculture, these food production methods are very resilient to many different types of food shortages, including those in which typical solutions could prove insufficient.

If traditional food supplies are unavailable over a longer time span, factories based on these technologies could be built to alleviate long-lasting supply shortages, once stored foods had run out. Large-scale production facilities could take around two years to build, but fast construction methods could potentially reduce the time down to about 7–8 months. These products have not yet been approved for human consumption, but some, such as protein from CO₂, are on track for approval.

Another possibility would be building some of these factories now, so that they’re available if a catastrophe occurs. While this would require an upfront cost, it would decrease costs during the catastrophe; building now would also bring some present-day benefits related to economic resilience and sustainability. Repurposing existing factories, especially paper factories, to produce food is also one of the more effective options ALLFED is looking into.

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