Food Trends 2020 New York

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Expert Forecasts for 2020

• The enormous scientific and technological gap between the scientifically lagging countries of Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania and the scientifically advanced nations of North America, Western Europe, and Asia Nations in the scientifically proficient group face a dynamic mix of problems. Promoting economic development and international commerce is often a top priority for countries with this level of S&T capacity but for very diverse reasons. The populations of China and India, for example, are quite large and continually growing. These countries urgently need to feed their many people, create jobs, and sustain wide-scale economic development. Yet while Poland and Russia have much smaller populations, economic growth is no less a concern. In the decade following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Russia has encountered considerable economic difficulties. Although its population is shrinking in real terms, unemployment is high. The exodus of Russian scientists, engineers, and other professionals beginning in the 1990s has weakened the country’s institutional and human capacity in science, health, and administra-tion. Poland, as a relatively recent member of the European Union, is in a very different situation: It needs to bring its economy in line with EU standards. We see no indication that the rapid pace of technology development will slow in the next decade and a half. Neither will the trends toward multidisciplinarity and the increasingly integrated nature of technology applications reverse. Indeed, most of the top 16 technology applications for 2020 draw from at least three of the areas addressed in this study—biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials technology, and information technology—and many involve all four. Underlying these trends are global communications (Internet connectivity, scientific conferences, and publications) and instrumentation advances (the development and cross-fertilization of ever more-sensitive and selective instrumentation). The scientifically lagging countries around the world will face the most severe problems disease, lack of clean water and sanitation, and environmental degradation. They will also likely lack the resources to address these problems. Consequently, they stand to gain the most from implementing the 2020 technology applications. However, to do so, these nations will need to make substantial inroads in building institutional, physical, and human capacity. The efforts and sponsorship of international aid agencies and other countries may assist in these efforts, but the countries themselves will have to improve governance and achieve greater stability before they will be able to benefit from available S&T innovations. For scientifically lagging and developing countries, implementing technology applications to address problems and issues will not be primarily about technology, or even S&T capacity.