Million-dollar prize for Aussie innovation
FutureFeed, an Australian livestock feed made from seaweed that reduces methane emissions in beef and dairy cattle by more than 80 percent, has been awarded the world’s largest monetary reward in the global food arena.
The Food Planet Prize recognises initiatives, organisations and individuals working to secure the world’s food supply while fostering a healthy and resilient biosphere.
Awarded by the Curt Bergfors Foundation, The Food Planet Prize was launched this year, with four US $1 million awards given for efforts to reshape the food system. To have a genuine impact and to contribute to a sustainable and resilient food system, the solutions must be implementable reasonably fast and on a large, preferably global, scale.
Selected from a competitive field of more than 650 nominations from all over the world, FutureFeed won for its benefits to the environment, while also having the potential to improve profits and livelihoods by opening up a new global industry in seaweed farming.
When just a handful of the Asparagopsis seaweed-based feed additive is fed to cattle, it not only drastically reduces the greenhouse gas contribution from agriculture – there is also a strong indication it increases livestock productivity.
In August this year, Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, established the FutureFeed company to take the livestock feed to market. Dr Michael Battaglia, CSIRO scientist and Director of FutureFeed, says the funds from the award will be used in two key areas to help meet the goal of delivering the world’s first ultra-low-carbon beef and dairy by mid-2021.
“We plan to use part of the prize to establish a fund to enhance the participation of Aboriginal and other first nations people around the world in Asparagopsis supply chains,” he says. “Already in Australia we have agreements between the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation involving the Narrunga Nation Aboriginal peoples, and a seaweed growing company CH4 with the intent to develop commercial scale Asparagopsis cultivation and processing to generate maximum benefit for the Narrunga people.”
A portion of the prize money will also be used to develop land-based culture of seaweed in cold water regions where the seaweed can’t grow naturally.