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Monday, November 11, 2013

Artificial leaf ignites discuss on food security with molecular plants

The presence of artificial leaves, otherwise known as ‘resurrection plants’ ignited discuss among 800 participants on food security with molecular plants at the 2013 Falling Walls Conference in Berlin.

NaijaAgroNet reports that international top scientists present at the 2013 Falling Walls Conference wondered, why they were given a piece of dry plant by Jill Farrant of Cape Town University. 

The resurrection plants are not known only as the lazy gardener’s best friend, but a real hope for the fight against hunger in the world says some experts, just as these plants could tolerate almost complete water loss from vegetative tissues.

The South African researcher, Jill Farrant expressed determination to find the secrets behind these self-protecting properties in order to improve the resistance of crop in Africa and to solve one of the world’s biggest problems – hunger.

NaijaAgroNet notes that this was of great importance for the African continent, where the impacts of climate change have devastating effects on agriculture and food security. 

However, Benjamin Barber from City University of New York managed to get the audience to think of city instead of nation states, stressing that a new global model of governance, in which cities are the key players.

NaijaAgroNet reports that Barber pointed out that nation states will not govern globally cities can.

“They already are. Half of the human race lives in cities and the influence of places like Mumbai, Nairobi, Sao Paulo or Manila has long transcended regional and national borders,” Barber said.

Emphasising that man cannot solve social problems like diseases, economic crisis or climate change on a national level, because his studies have shown that cities have the capacity to deal with internal and external issues and could easily replace the system of nation states in the future.

For Daniel Nocera, he predicted global demand in energy scaling up to 16 Terawatts in the next 37 years.

“I calculated that we will need 16 Terawatt more energy to meet the demand by 2050,” he said, recollecting that with the poor in mind, develop an artificial leave which, when placed in a glass of tap water and exposed to sunlight, is able to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

“Both gases can then be collected, stored as fuel in private households and later be fed to fuel cells to generate electricity,” he suggested.

NaijaAgroNet reports that additional speakers included the Nobel Laureates Jules Hoffmann and Dan Shechtman, the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, Robert Kirshner from Harvard University, Onora O’Neill from Cambridge University, Sophia Vinagradov from the University of California and many more. More than 8000 viewers watched this year’s conference via livestream.

The Falling Walls Conference was first held in 2009 to mark the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and has since developed into a highly acclaimed annual platform for top international research. The conference is supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Helmholtz Association, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the Berlin Senate Department for Economics, Technology and Research, and a number of other leading research institutions, foundations and companies.

Remmy Nweke
... Linking agrobiz, people & technology

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