Hunger is rarely a consideration for Westerners whose lives – and fridges – are ruled by the sell-by date. It is estimated that a third of the food produced in the European Union is wasted. Yet it was only a few generations ago that people were dying of hunger – in the heart of civilised Europe. During World War Two the Netherlands suffered a traumatic famine in which as many as 20,000 people are believed to have died of starvation. Perhaps this is why the Dutch are in the vanguard of nations looking at ways to better manage global food production. The small university town of Wageningen has become a world centre of agri-tech research, earning itself the nickname “Food Valley“. Its aim is nothing less than to shape the future of food. It is in Wageningen that they are trying to find ways to use land more efficiently, produce crops which are more pest-resistant, and plant varieties which can withstand temperature fluctuations, with the aim of helping the world produce the 56 per cent more food it will require to feed itself by 2050. By then the world’s population is expected to have reached 9.9 billion. If food production and consumption continues to be as inefficient and wasteful as it is today, scientists predict a global calamity. In Britain, horticultural research is centred on an institution in the Warwickshire village of Wellesbourne (part of Warwick University) which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2020. Its researchers collaborate with their counterparts in Wageningen, recently sending a shipment of seeds, including the Warwickshire carrot and the Evesham Special sprout. They have also sent seeds to a research station in the Norwegian arctic, where thousands of varieties of plant genes are stored in deep freeze – an insurance against global disaster, including doomsday scenarios connected to climate change or nuclear war.