Well , how do you think agriculture can improve not just the perception but the reality of its environmental sustainability ?
Those are two very different questions . I think the reality about environmental sustainability is ( that ) it ’ s very much already there . I ’ ve never met a farmer who didn ’ t absolutely love the land they worked with and care about it and want it be there for multiple generations down the road . And because of that , they ’ re generally very aware of what they ’ re doing and how it affects the world around them . Now , whether or not that ’ s been accurately communicated , that ’ s an issue , but I think — as we mentioned before — getting access directly to consumers and the rest of the world , your social media and other interaction capabilities are really changing . The ability to know that a farmer is a person and not just someone who is , you know , essentially looking at the land like it ’ s a factory floor and trying to get more and more out of it as best they can , but someone who genuinely cares and wants to do the best they can to produce safe , healthy food while also taking care of the land they work with , is really critical . And so , I think it ’ s a balance . I think the reality is already there , and we are continuing to push that reality forward with the science that ’ s done by researchers like myself and through the implementation of that science by the farmers and ranchers around the world . It ’ s really a focus on that perception through communications that is critical .
Okay . Big change of subject here , but this is a question I ’ ve been looking forward to asking . Are doors opening to women in the agri-sciences ?
You know , Tom , that ’ s not a terrible question . You know , I ’ m a woman who ’ s been in agri-science in some way , shape or form my entire life . I grew up with access to a farm through my grandparents , knew I wanted to be in agriculture fairly early on in my life and knew I wanted to be a scientist fairly early on in life . And I honestly . personally , never had a lot of pushback to being a woman in science . You always run into the odd person that proves you wrong . But you know , they ’ re manageable . And so , I think , not only are doors opening , but they are open . And I see that , because more and more of the scientists I collaborate with around the world are women . And more and more of the farmers I talk to are women . And women are , no doubt , a driving force in agri-science . And you ’ re going to hear more and more of us out there talking and communicating and showing you what our lives are like and why you should also be in agri-science .
Okay . Let ’ s talk about Alltech ’ s Planet of Plenty™
mission , and tell me how science informs or plays a role in that mission .
Absolutely . So , the three leaves that are in the Planet of Plenty logo are really critical ; we ’ ve given meaning to each of those three leaves . They represent science ,
WINTER ISSUE – DECEMBER 2021 sustainability and storytelling . So , from that , you obviously can see that science is very much at the core of Planet of Plenty . Science is guiding the development of sustainability solutions . The science is guiding the changes we ’ re making and supporting farmers in farming options and ranching management . And science underpins all of the stories that are being showcased in the Planet of Plenty ongoing activities . And so , it ’ s really all about making that science applicable and communicating it very well to the world .
Why would you say it ’ s important , not just to the ag industry , but to consumers as well , that events such as Alltech ’ s ONE Conference
are held annually ?
And here , we ’ re right back to the beginning , aren ’ t we , Tom ? Knowledge is constantly growing , and everything else is changing . And honestly , I don ’ t think the speed of change is going to slow down . If anything , it ’ s just going to continue to increase . Because that change has been so rapid , there ’ s so much technology , knowledge and ideas that are generated every year , and so having these kinds of opportunities to get together , talk and see what ’ s new around the world on an annual basis really just gives you that one-stop shop for new ideas and new concepts . The other aspect that is absolutely one of my favorite things about Alltech ’ s ONE Conference is the international diversity . In non-COVID times , I get to travel a fair bit for my job and see how things are done in a lot of different places , and that gives me so many connections because , you know , someone encounters a problem — the same problem in different places . But because of their available resources , cultural differences , climate and everything else , they solve that problem in a different way . And so , when you can start bringing those different solutions to the same problem and discussing those things on an international level , you really start to find some of the key things that tie together , and you can make those solutions stronger in each different location .
You know , it ’ s been several years now , but I remember when we discussed CRISPR technology at the Alltech ONE Conference . And at that time , it seemed novel : it seemed exotic . But here we are today with , evidently , a breakthrough in CRISPR technology that might lead to restoring the vision of the blind .
It is absolutely amazing . I have so many stunning scientist friends who work in cutting-edge technology . And if I could just communicate what they ’ re doing to the public on a daily basis , I would be overjoyed . Science is moving so fast . We ’ re seeing new things every day . And there ’ s no doubt that Alltech has made it an absolutely key point to be on the forefront of that change in technology and knowledge and make sure that we ’ re presenting the best of those changes and knowledge updates to the people that come to our conferences , and that ’ s just fun .