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Vertical farming, micro-algae and bio-reactors — the new frontier of sustainable food

CEA represents a small but growing dimension of agriculture.

It's attracting huge investment, particularly in the United States where venture capitalists see gains to be made in vertical farming.

The major players, to date, have concentrated on producing perishable goods such as salad vegetables — crops that traditionally require large amounts of water.

But vertical farming expert Paul Gauthier believes even staples like potato and wheat could eventually be grown indoors.

"Everything is possible. I don't think there is anything in the vertical farm that we can't grow," he says. "I was growing coffee trees inside a vertical farm.

"It's a question of which kind of design we have to make and what the economics are behind it."

Dr Gauthier, who now works for the New Jersey-based company Bowery Farming, admits both the capital and energy costs involved in vertical farming are "definitely huge".

But that needs to be put in context, he argues, because significant government subsidies have long been provided to traditional farming operations.

Read more at ABC News (Antony Funnell)

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