Sept. 11-13, 2017 | St. Louis, MO

Opening Keynote: Sequencing the Food Supply Chain

Tuesday Sept. 15th (9:00 - 9:30 AM)

Perspectives from Mars, IBM, & UC Davis

A revolutionary initiative to meet tomorrow’s food safety challenges

The pace of food production continues to accelerate, as demand for food (and new sources of food) increases dramatically around the globe.  Today, food is managed through global supply chains that increase food safety risk at all stages – from the extraction and production of raw materials to the manufacturing of finished goods, available via various channels of distribution and levels of infrastructure.  According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans is affected by a foodborne illness each year, along with untold numbers worldwide. A significant new effort, to establish a baseline for the biomes of some of our supply chains, using refined tools of genomics and large-scale computational analytics is expected to create greater traceability and transparency, redefine the roles of regulators and producers, increase early warnings of contamination, and enhance our ability to deal with any eventuality of food-borne disease.  Senior representatives from Mars, IBM, and UC Davis, who participate together in the newly formed Consortium For Sequencing The Food Supply Chain will discuss this initiative and the issues it covers and raises in this thought-provoking session. 

Bart C. Weimer

Bart C. Weimer Professor, Department of Population Health & Reproduction UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Jeffrey J. Welser

Jeffrey J. Welser Vice President & Lab Director IBM Research - Almaden

David Crean

David Crean Global R&D Staff Officer Mars Incorporated

A Systems Approach to Biologics: Combinations, Formulations, & Challenges

Tuesday Sept.15th (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM)

Once considered a 'fringe' market, the use of biologics in agriculture (naturally-occurring solutions including microbial organisms, plant extracts or beneficial insects) has grown by more than 25% over last three years and this trend is expected to continue. Agricultural biologicals may enable farmers to improve plant health, increase productivity and complement (and sometimes replace) traditional fertilizers and chemicals, thus lowering the environmental footprint of agriculture.

Major crop protection companies are jumping on the biological bandwagon, and the U.S. appears on the cusp of widespread adoption of biological solutions in crop production. However, a major challenge to the integration of these solutions in the hybrid systems most prevalent in agriculture is that testing for increased efficacy and appropriate formulation has been mostly a “stand-alone” pursuit.

This discussion will explore efforts by technology suppliers to integrate the new biologic tools with current cultural, formulation, and pest control practices. Key questions include: Why add biologics to the pipeline? How can biologicals be integrated with chemical solutions? What are the potential benefits of such “hybrid” solutions? How can such formulations be optimized?

This panel will explore these issues from the perspective of both the small biologics suppliers who are seeking a market for their innovative technologies and large integrated crop protection companies who seek to integrate these technologies into coherent marketing and sales approaches

Jean-Philippe Albert

Jean-Philippe Albert Head of New Technology Syngenta Crop Protection AG

Brad Griffith

Brad Griffith VP, Global Commercial Lead Monsanto BioAg at Monsanto Company

Mike McFatrich

Mike McFatrich VP of Strategy & Business Development NewLeaf Symbiotics

Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt SVP, Business Development & Strategy BioConsortia

Jim Budzynski

Jim Budzynski Managing Principal MacroGain Partners

From Concept to Reality: Building a Successful Ag-Tech Start-Up

Monday Sept. 14th (2:30 - 4:30 PM)

This Special Content Session is organized in partnership with the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS). 

The Canadian Consulate invites investors and strategic partners to an afternoon session featuring networking and a panel discussion on overcoming the hurdles ag-tech companies often face. Participants can meet and share their experience with innovative Canadian companies that are:

  • devising new technologies in precision agriculture
  •  developing an on-line marketplace for crops and inputs
  • creating cutting-edge crop care solutions
  • building large-scale indoor farming systems
  • inventing lab-quality PCR tests for use in the field
  • changing the way we fight germs
  • establishing a new paradigm for bovine healthcare

New companies may start off with terrific ideas and great technologies, but reality soon settles in and companies face many challenges developing innovations into businesses. During this session, Canadian entrepreneurs will have a chance to receive guidance on the issues that keep them up at night. Our panel of experts will tackle questions like:

  • How do I conduct research, raise money AND run my business at the same time?
  • My company is not at the right stage for VC funding; where else can I look for financial support?
  • Who regulates my product, and how can I be sure I take the correct and most efficient path to approval?
  • How do I find partners who will help me sell my products?

Bring your expertise and join us!

Climate Adaptive Agriculture: Data-driven innovations in the field

Wednesday Sept. 16th (10:10 - 11:10 AM)

A revolution in a data-driven economy

It is clear that agriculture is undergoing a radical transformation in dealing with the challenge of food production amid increasingly uncertain climatic factors.  Advances in genome editing, plant biome-based technologies, and the use of targeted biologicals are furthering our ability to develop climate-adaptive field, food and crop approaches to the uncertainties surrounding climate change.  Accompanying these advances is the explosion of data, collected and analyzed using tools that are increasingly sophisticated.  These new tools are becoming crucial implements for global food production, arguably as important as traditional inputs.  They serve to suggest and offer patterns, and provide more transparent choices for growers and developers alike.  How far are we from seeing a robust and varied set of offerings that tie these developments together? What are the best in class technologies that are being deployed that tie these developments together?  What business and investment models may be possible or forthcoming? Finally, what are the specific areas where we can expect and will see more than hope or hype?  In this panel, we aim to stimulate a thought-provoking and lively discussion among panelists and attendees. 

John Corbett

John Corbett Co-Founder & CEO aWhere, Inc

Jonah Kolb

Jonah Kolb Vice President Moore & Warner Farm Management

Dirk Vandenhirtz

Dirk Vandenhirtz CEO LemnaTec

Mark  Kahn

Mark Kahn Co-Founder Omnivore Partners

Regulation of Genetic Engineering and Biopesticides in the United States

Monday Sept. 14th (2:30 - 4:30 PM)

Special Content Session is organized in partnership with Sidley Austin LLP

Sidley Austin’s Special Content Session will elucidate the Ag Biotech regulatory system in the U.S. in regard to genetically engineered crops, and will provide insights on possible changes that may result from the comprehensive evaluation of that system.

The area under cultivation with genetically engineered crops has risen globally for nineteen consecutive years. In 2014, there were 181.5 million hectares planted with genetically engineered crops, 73.1 million of which were in the U.S. The global market value of these crops was $15.7 billion. While the safety of GE crops, and the sustainability benefits that accrue from their cultivation, are not questioned by those who know the science, these crops are, nonetheless, subjected to strict regulatory scrutiny. The United States, which has the most rigorous and effective Ag Biotech regulatory program worldwide, has recently initiated a comprehensive evaluation of its Ag Biotech regulatory scheme, with the intent to update its regulatory approach to “ensure that the system is prepared for the future products of biotechnology.” 

Sidley’s Special Content Session will additionally provide insights on the regulation of Biopesticides at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Under U.S. law, the category of biopesticides includes biochemical and microbial pesticides, GE crops, and biostimulants. The global market for biopesticides has been estimated at $3.7 billion in 2017, much of which currently occurs in the United States. We will examine and provide insight into EPA’s regulatory processes for biopesticides, and possible future regulatory challenges.

Keith Matthews

Keith Matthews Counsel Sidley Austin LLP

A Billion Smallholders: Bringing AgTech into New Markets



Transparency Without Prejudice: Bridging the GMO Divide

Tuesday Sept. 15th (9:30 - 9:50 AM)

Despite transformative effects across society, biotechnology in agriculture has faced an unprecedented backlash. "Anti-GMO," for example, has become a rallying cry that has been co-opted by larger socioeconomic and political agendas pertaining to such areas as food security, intellectual property, ecological sustainability and corporate transparency.  This "campaign" has blown past the understanding of the science and its benefits, and has instead been infused with established bias and irresponsible advocacy.

Yet, as the rate of technology innovation outpaces policy and public sentiment, the industry faces a watershed opportunity to reshape the conversation. What are the mistakes of the past that we can avoid? Where should leadership come from in the future and how could biotechnology be better communicated to the consumer? What can our industry do to reach across the table with our opponents and work together to advance the mutual goal of ensuring the sustainable future of food? 

This fast-paced dialogue will seek to put a few points "on the board" and seek to introduce a sense of possibility to engage and educate the consumer and the policymaker alike.

As a prelude to this spotlight session, check out this article on why Bill Nye changed his mind about GMOs.

Han Chen

Han Chen CEO ZeaKal, Inc

Geoff Kneen

Geoff Kneen R&D Licensing & New Ventures Manager, North America Bayer CropScience

Anthony Zolezzi

Anthony Zolezzi Operating Partner Pegasus Capital Advisors

The Yield Lab Presents Boeing Meets AgTech: Overcoming Challenges in NextGen Agriculture

Tuesday Sept. 15th (4:10 - 4:40 PM)

With the increase in aerial imaging, drone use and precision data companies; what are the key factors behind the wide scale adoption and commercialization of this NextGen agriculture? Come see Logan Jones of Boeing Ventures and the Yield Lab wade through the issues.

Logan Jones

Logan Jones Director of Strategy & Market Development Boeing Military Aircraft

Thomas McPeek

Thomas McPeek CEO AGERpoint, Inc.

Tomás  Peña

Tomás Peña Co-Founder & CFO S4

Thad Simons

Thad Simons Managing Partner The Yield Lab

Closing Keynote Panel: