Together with food science experts József Baranyi, from the Institute of Food Research in the U.K., and Zoltán Lakner, of Corvinus University in Budapest, Ercsey-Ravasz and Toroczkai recently published their results in the journal PLoS ONE.
As the world's population climbs past 7 billion, the sustainable production and distribution of food is balanced against the need to ensure its chemical and microbiological safety. The new paper maps the international agro-food trade network (IFTN) — a highly complex and heterogeneous system formed around a core group of seven countries, each trading with more than 77 percent of the world's nations. Since any two countries in the IFTN have only two degrees of separation on the network, the IFTN is capable of spreading a foodborne contaminant very efficiently. It also tends to mask the contaminant's origins once the system is compromised, since so many network paths run through the central nodes.
By 2030, food demand is expected to increase by 50 percent. Global food transport has been increasing at an exponential rate since the 1960s — faster than food production itself. As the system grows, so does pressure on regulation and surveillance organizations to track contaminants and prevent deadly outbreaks, such as the 2011 events in the U.S. (Listeria monocytogenes_) and Germany (_Escherichia coli).
While the paper does not predict an increase in food poisoning cases, it does predict significant delays with serious potential consequences in the identification of the outbreaks' sources — calling for an interdisciplinary and incentivized approach to the understanding of the IFTN that will build on its identification of the network's critical spots.
The paper, "Complexity of the International Agro-Food Trade Network and Its Impact on Food Safety," was published in PLoS ONE as part of an international research collaboration between the aforementioned institutions. Ercsey-Ravasz is currently at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj. Romania.
Zoltan Toroczkai | EurekAlert!
Decoding the regulation of cell survival - A major step towards preventing neurons from dying
04.10.2018 | DFG-Forschungszentrum für Regenerative Therapien TU Dresden
New Cluster of Excellence “Centre for Tactile Internet with Human-in-the-Loop” (CeTI)
28.09.2018 | Technische Universität Dresden
Augsburg chemists present a new technology for compressing, storing and transporting highly volatile gases in porous frameworks/New prospects for gas-powered vehicles
Storage of highly volatile gases has always been a major technological challenge, not least for use in the automotive sector, for, for example, methane or...
When we put water in a freezer, water molecules crystallize and form ice. This change from one phase of matter to another is called a phase transition. While this transition, and countless others that occur in nature, typically takes place at the same fixed conditions, such as the freezing point, one can ask how it can be influenced in a controlled way.
We are all familiar with such control of the freezing transition, as it is an essential ingredient in the art of making a sorbet or a slushy. To make a cold...
Thin organic layers provide machines and equipment with new functions. They enable, for example, tiny energy recuperators. In future, these will be installed...
Das Zusammenspiel aus Struktur und Dynamik bestimmt die Funktion von Proteinen, den molekularen Werkzeugen der Zelle. Durch Fortschritte in der...
New measurement method allows researchers to precisely follow the movement of individual molecules over long periods of time
The function of proteins – the molecular tools of the cell – is governed by the interplay of their structure and dynamics. Advances in electron microscopy have...
02.10.2018 | Event News
01.10.2018 | Event News
21.09.2018 | Event News
15.10.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
15.10.2018 | Life Sciences
15.10.2018 | Life Sciences