"From Farms to Incubators" book: https://bookshop.org/books/from-farms-to-incubators-women-innovators-revolutionizing-how-our-food-is-grown/9781610355759
We have on the show Ponsi Trivisvavet, who is the CEO of Inari, the SEEDesign company that uses predictive design and advanced multiplex gene editing to unlock the full potential of seed to build a more sustainable future for the food system.
Ponsi joined Inari in 2018 when they were just over a year old. Since that time they have grown from a 35-person company to a 190-person company. Before Inari, she held a number of leadership roles at Syngenta, most recently as president of Syngenta Seeds North America.
Today’s episode talks about some of the potential for gene editing for the future of our most widely grown crops, the approach Inari is taking to commercialize this technology, whether or not consumers are accepting this more than they did with GMO’s, and what impact this could have on farmer profitability and overall sustainability.
This interview with Ponsi was coordinated by today's co-host, Amy Wu, who is the author of the new book “From Farms to Incubators: Women Innovators Revolutionizing How Our Food is Grown”. Ponsi is one of several women innovators featured in the book and I highly recommend you pick it up. You’ll recognize other former guests of this podcast like Pam Marrone, Fatma Kaplan, Sarah Nolet, Mariana Vasconcelos, Christine Su, and others.
TED Talk: Why we fear the food we eat: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thiOicCQRWY
White paper: The role of innovation in transforming the food system: https://animalagalliance.org/resource/white-paper-the-role-of-innovation-in-transforming-the-global-food-system/
I have on the show a guest whose work I’ve followed for a long time, and someone who I’ve connected with a handful of times over the years, and am really glad to finally get him on the show, Mr. Jack Bobo. Jack is a food futurist and the author of ‘Why smart people make bad food choices.’ He is also the CEO of Futurity, a food foresight company that advises companies, foundations and governments on emerging food trends and consumer attitudes and behaviors related to the future of food. Recognized by Scientific American in 2015 as one of the 100 most influential people in biotechnology, Jack is a global thought leader who has delivered more than 500 speeches in 50 countries. He previously served as the Chief Communications Officer and Senior Vice President for Global Policy and Government Affairs at Intrexon Corporation. Prior to joining Intrexon Jack worked at the U.S. Department of State for thirteen years as a senior advisor for global food policy.
The first part of our conversation today will be about Jack’s new book “Why Smart People Make Bad Food Choices”, then we’ll pivot into what these dynamics mean for agriculture, which opens up what I think is a fascinating conversation about the future of food and ag after that which weaves in points about sustainability, differentiation, and food policy. So you’ll definitely want to make sure you stick around for that.
SWARMFarm Robotics https://www.swarmfarm.com/
Carbon Robotics https://carbonrobotics.com/
Today’s episode is going to be a highlight reel from a virtual event I hosted for the FoA community. That event was an ag robotics roundtable, which featured six robotics companies to have a discussion about the challenges and opportunities of bringing more automation to agriculture. The event lasted every bit of the 90 minutes we had scheduled, and it was even more enlightening than I had anticipated.
So today, I’m going to bring you some of the highlights from that event in a condensed format, and make sure that You’re going to get a chance to hear more about:
We’re not going to get too far into the weeds about the technical aspects of each of the robots represented here, but I’ll do my best to introduce you to these six ag robotics leaders and their companies along the way. Just as a preview, you’re going to hear from (in order of appearance):
PMA Takes on Tech: https://www.pma.com/content/podcast/takes-on-tech
Today's two part episode starts off with a higher-level picture of the innovations in produce with Vonnie Estes, vice president of technology for the Produce Marketing Association. Then we’ll drill deeper into one aspect of food quality, arguably the most important aspect of food quality: flavor. For that we’ll talk to Josh Silverman, CEO of Aromyx, a company that is digitizing taste and smell.
I was able to sit down with Vonnie Estes and capture some valuable insights about the challenges and opportunities of bringing technology to the produce industry, the role of indoor agriculture in fresh produce, alternative funding models for companies that want to serve some of these niches, and the digitization of quality and of supply chains, which will of course lead us into part two with Josh.
Vonnie Estes is the VP of Technology at the Produce Marketing Association. She has held leadership positions at prominent companies including DuPont, Monsanto, and Syngenta along with start-ups including DNAP, Emergent Genetics, and Caribou Biosciences. Vonnie has a BS in Horticulture from New Mexico State and a Masters in Plant Pathology from UC Davis.
Also joining me is Aromyx CEO Josh Silverman. Josh has a Ph.D. in Biochemistry, and is a serial entrepreneur. He has been the founder of 5 different biotech companies, including some in the new protein ingredient space. It was through these experiences of trying to bring sustainable foods and ingredients to the market that he realized flavor is most important, but was also really subjective and nearly impossible to predict. So he joined Aromyx, and the company just recently a $10 million series A round with investors that included the Rabobank Food & Agri Innovation Fund.