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A Possible End to World Hunger?

As I went to check my mail on Yahoo.com, I was shocked and intrigued when I saw the headlining news story, “NASA awards grant for 3-D food printer; could it end world hunger?”. World hunger has obviously always been a problem; one that most people see as inevitable and too great of an issue to ever be solved. We are seeing an excess of demand; too many people to feed and not enough resources or efficient enough economy to prevent hunger. We have hit a point where more resources are greatly needed, yet they are slowly dwindling. But a project headed by Systems & Materials Research Corp and funded by NASA, may just be the solution to this problem.

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3-D printer food made from meal worms

According to Anjan Contractor(the mechanical engineer behind the idea of the 3-D printer) and other economists, our “current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people efficiently” and “so we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food”.  This 3-D printer would turn foods into powder form that could last for 30 years, and use carbohydrates, sugars, and proteins to make edible foods that people could survive off of.  The first prototype they will attempt to make is a 3-D pizza printer. This pizza printer would start by printing a layer of dough that would be baked as it was printing by a heated plate at the bottom of the printer. Then a tomato base would be made from stored powder mixed with water and oil. Finally, a protein layer would be added.  These 3-D printers would also be able to provide personalized nutrition, where “ if you can program your needs into a 3-D printer, it can print exactly the nutrients that person requires”.  This machine works just like any other 3-D printer, but instead of sending a design, you send a recipe with precise ingredients and measurements. Other food sources that could also be used along with the printer are duckweed, grass, lupine seeds, algae, insects, and beet leaves.

Image            I agree with the prediction that food will continue to become more expensive, because the demand is greater than the supply. People will have an even harder time feeding themselves and their families in the future if nothing is done to make more economically reasonable food options.  NASA has given the Systems & Materials Research Corp a six-month grant that comes to $125,000.  They are mainly interested in it so that they could use it to feed their astronauts who go on long space voyages. NASA was convinced of the success of this project after watching it synthesize squares of chocolate. I believe that more agencies should invest in this project because there is great incentive involved: to end world hunger. This project has the potential to be one of the most beneficial and life-changing inventions of all time, which should give people the incentive to ensure its success. Not only could they end world hunger, they would dramatically curb food waste. These printers might not produce the most natural and tasty foods, but in terms of keeping people from starving for inexpensive prices, they can do the trick. If these printers succeed, in 30 years every new home could be outfitted with a 3-D food printer instead of a microwave. These printers give us hope for the future.

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