The Alltech ONE Ideas Conference conducted virtually to unite thought-leaders and changemakers for an exploration of the power of science, sustainability and storytelling. Now in its 37th year, Alltech’s flagship event continues to be an invaluable industry resource, with unmatched content and innovative ideas, inspiration and motivation from world-class speakers. Registrants from 99 countries accessed to virtual platform that included on-demand tracks, streaming keynote presentations, live workshops and an interactive networking experience, allowing attendees to connect around the world.
“We are on the brink of a new beginning, and I don’t believe that is just a new beginning for Alltech. I think it’s a new beginning and a new golden era for agri-food, and it’s led by what we believe is a bold vision, We want to deliver smarter, more sustainable solutions for our customers and for all of agri-food.” ~ Dr. Mark Lyons, president and CEO of Alltech.
Anna Rosling Rönnlund, vice president and head of design and user experience at Gapminder and co-author of “Factfulness,” was one of the opening keynote speakers on Tuesday, June 22. Rönnlund designed the user interface of the famous animated bubble-chart tool Trendalyzer, which helps people better understand global development trends. The tool was eventually acquired by Google and is now used by millions of students across the world. Along with her Gapminder co-founders, Rönnlund co-wrote the book “Factfulness,” sharing insights on the ten instincts that distort our perspective of the world and prevent us from seeing the truth.
“A lot of things are actually improving, but we’re very bad at seeing these slow trends on a global level,”. “We need to have a fact-based worldview, and we need to remember that we need to keep upgrading our worldview, because the world changes, and so has our facts about it.” ~ Anna Rosling Rönnlund
As a professional photographer, filmmaker and former photojournalist for National Geographic, Dewitt Jones has made a career of storytelling through images and has traveled the world on a mission to find the extraordinary in the ordinary. Through his compelling stories and captivating photography, Jones shared how changing your lens can change your life.
“These are turbulent times, and the waves of change seem to threaten our very survival. So, what will your vision allow you to see?” Jones asked during his keynote presentation. “Will you look out at a dim, half-colored world where dreams disappear in the distance — a world where goals don’t even seem worth striving for? Or will your vision allow you to see a world still full of beauty and joy and possibility?” ~ Dewitt Jones
Alltech ONE Ideas Conference covered more than 70 on-demand presentations exploring challenges and opportunities in aquaculture, beef, business, crop science, dairy, equine, health and wellness, pet, and poultry sectors. Registration for the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference will remain open, offering attendees 24/7 access to all on-demand content, including keynote presentations and tracks, until April 2022. All are encouraged to share their experiences on social media with the hashtag #ONEbigidea.
ALLTECH CEO WARNS OF NEGATIVITY TOWARDS ANIMAL AGRICULTURE
Speaking at the Alltech ONE Ideas Conference Dr. Mark Lyons, President and CEO of Alltech, warned about the negativity towards agriculture and specifically animal agriculture seen in many media publications outside of agriculture and agrifood.
“We have a situation where science and facts are not necessarily what is leading the day. Moreover, it’s really ideology that is pushing the agenda,” he said. “A lot of people are talking about how we need to change our diets and have climate friendly diets,” adding that one in five millennials are saying they are willing to change their diets for climate reasons.
For Dr. Lyons, the concern is that major brands are picking this up and are starting to measure not just calorie counts but also climate impact on their products. He said that even some restaurants are completely removing meat from their menus, and apps like Epicurious are removing beef completely from their recipes. Governments are getting in the game too.
“We know, of course, the Green Deal in Europe has been rolling out programs over the last 18 months, but also here in the US the Biden administration is now putting together their climate programme, and they are focused on agriculture. But one thing that surprised me was seeing a country that is so synonymous with beef production, Argentina, also launching a Green Mondays programme encouraging people to replace meat with plant-based proteins all focused on reducing climate impact,” Dr. Lyons commented. “We see large UK retailers increasing the amount of meat alternatives they want to promote, and we’re seeing that truly across the globe.”
Dr. Lyons questioned some of the motivations of the meat alternatives companies. “One thing that concerns me is that they are really denigrating our industry. They’re not disrupting it. They’re really running us down and saying there are things that are taking place within agrifood that should be stopped. And what is extraordinary is to see the way that they are marketing … We need to make sure that we are aware of what is taking place and what is at stake.”
“When we look at some of these businesses, it’s shocking to see the valuations that these businesses have compared to their traditional counterparts,” he added. “And when you look at the small revenues they have and the sizable losses that they have in terms of their business models, it’s clear. It’s clear that financiers are seeing this as an opportunity for the future, that the potential of these businesses and the share that they may take in the future can be quite considerable. That’s where they’re putting their bets. But it’s amazing to see a business model like this not being backed up truly by consumers. Who is making the decision here? To me, it certainly doesn’t seem like consumers. It’s policymakers. It’s financial institutions seeing an opportunity for profitability.”
For the Alltech CEO, it is an important time for the sector to come together and move forward with actions to demonstrate why agriculture and animal agriculture are important to preserve.
“We are vilifying what could be the solution. Agriculture has a tremendous opportunity to have a positive impact on the planet, and at the same time we are ignoring some of our most pervasive problems,” he commented. “Removing animal
agriculture would have very short term gains. We would disrupt the biogenic cycle leading to an even higher level of accumulated CO2 … Agriculture land use, land use change, and forestry combined in the United States removes 172 million metric tonnes of CO2 every year. Today in the US, we produce 18% of the world’s beef with just 6% of the world’s cattle. It’s incredible to see the efficiencies that have been created.”
According to Dr. Lyons, the sector has to pursue its efforts. However, it can only really to come to life with storytelling. “This is the way that we connect. It’s the way that we remember, and it’s the way that we need to make sure that we communicate not just within our industry but also outside,” he said.
He added: “We know can actually reduce greenhouse gases in our industry by another 50%, and I believe this is just the start … There’s also so many exciting new technologies that could be utilised, so many new ways that we can measure, and ways that we can partner across the agrifood chain to make sure that we are giving ourselves the best chance to reduce our environmental impact. We also want to focus on another area of considerable opportunity, food waste. If food waste was a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases. And if we took just a third of that food waste, we could feed all undernourished and malnourished on our planet.”
“But all of this must be brought to life through storytelling. That is the thing that connects us that really transmits the energy needed.”