By 2030, food demand is expected to increase by 50 percent.
University of Notre Dame network physicists Mária Ercsey-Ravasz and Zoltán Toroczkai of the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications, in collaboration with food science experts, have recently published a rigorous analysis of the international food-trade network that shows the network’s vulnerability to the fast spread of contaminants as well as the correlation between known food poisoning outbreaks and the centrality of countries on the network.
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.
via Science Daily
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