New hope for world hunger? Scientists create food out of thin air!

Hunger and malnutrition are triggers of poverty and many developing countries are working towards eradicating it.

As per UNICEF data, nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are attributable to undernutrition. This translates into the unnecessary loss of about 3 million young lives a year.

Unfortunately, malnutrition and undernutrition affect not just children, but adults too. According to the Food Aid Foundation, some 795 million people in the world do not have enough food to lead a healthy active life. That’s about one in nine people on earth.

But, there’s a possibility that the evils of hunger affecting many across the world could soon be eliminated if the claims of Finnish scientists are to be believed.

As per reports, scientists in Finland have claimed that they have successfully created food out of thin air, just by using electricity, carbon dioxide, and a few added microbes.

By mixing the ingredients into a coffee-cup-sized bioreactor and supplying an electric shock, they were able to create a powder that is around 50 percent protein and 25 percent carbohydrates, with the rest being fat and nucleic acid, Quartz reported.

However, the powder is not yet fit for human consumption but could provide an alternate source for animal fodder.

This, in turn, would help reduce strain on crops. This also may help keep meat affordable as the world’s crops come under increasing pressure, the Deccan Chronicle reported.

As per the Deccan Chronicle, the researchers said the Food from Electricity program is 10 times more energy efficient than the photosynthesis of plants. This early-stage research could pave a path toward a solution to cheaply feed hungry populations without massive land use.

Furthermore, looking at it from a long-term point of view, the protein “reactors” also have the potential to create the building blocks of meals aboard long-duration space flights and as a rapid-response counters o famine, the report said.

“In practice, all the raw materials are available from the air,” said Juha-Pekka Pitkänen, principal scientist at VTT. “In the future, the technology can be transported to, for instance, deserts and other areas facing famine. One possible alternative is a home reactor, a type of domestic appliance the consumer can use to produce the needed protein.”

However, plenty of work remains to be done to make it commercially viable. At the moment, the experimental coffee-machine-sized bench top facilities take about a fortnight to zap into existence one gram of protein powder.