OBJECTIVE: To show that nutrition science is anchored in food systems and is influenced by the social, through the environmental to the cosmological, life's connections and rhythms. To indicate that an integrative approach is now becoming possible with advances in food technology, in the understanding of food choice and of human behaviour, and in a preparedness to recognise nutritional inputs in the full sweep of life-long well-being and health outcomes. METHOD: An analysis of the much broader understanding of nutritionally related diseases from an ecological perspective, with attention to economic development, beginning with poverty alleviation. Recognition that the biological dimension of nutrition science is undergoing a profound reappraisal; that technologies will allow us to change the course of nutritionally related diseases for the better; and that nutrition science will find partners in information technology and telecommunications, food technology and energy technology. CONCLUSION: A new generation of nutrition scientists can help build a new economy that supports development amongst communities, whether close or distant from each other. The opportunities for this kind of development to be realised between Asia, Latin America and Africa are considerable. At all times, however, nutrition scientists must uphold the paramount importance of good governance, conflict resolution and maternal literacy if their work is to achieve its growing potential.