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Ag Industry Brief: California Cuts Food Waste, Europe to Vote on Glyphosate Ban, Rabo Launches $1bn Fund, more

October 20, 2017

Europe to Vote on Glyphosate Ban

On Tuesday, October 24, the European Parliament will vote on whether to ban Monsanto’s controversial pesticide glyphosate in the next three years. The following day, the European Commission’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed will consider and may vote on whether to renew the substance for a decade. So far, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Bulgaria, and Latvia are against a ban. France is for it. The vote comes on the heels of a Reuters report which alleges that the World Health Organization edited “non-carcinogenic findings” out of its 2015 report designating glyphosate a Group 2a carcinogen – a substance that probably causes cancer in people.

Rabobank Launches $1bn Fund with the UN

Rabobank has partnered with the United Nations to launch a $1 billion fund to help farmers transition to more sustainable practices. Over the next three years, Rabobank plans to offer grants, lower-interest rate loans, and insurance products to farmers to extend their crop rotations and boost soil productivity. The cost of the fund is being equally shared by Rabobank and the UN. More here.

California Passes Law to Cut Food Waste

On October 14 California governor Jerry Brown signed into law a new statue that reportedly better clarifies the difference between a “safety date” and a “quality date” on food packaging. The law will expand liability protections around food donations protecting all donators of food that is “fit for human consumption” and newly protecting direct donations from person to person that do not pass through a food pantry or similar organization. Advocates hope the law will decrease the 5.5 million pounds of food waste deposited in California’s landfills every year. More here.

Benson Hill Biosystems Launches Complete Genome Editing System

Computational biology startup Benson Hill Biosystems (BHB) has announced the commercial launch of Edit, a complete genome editing system made accessible to partners for the development of improved crops. The Edit system combines the capability of Benson Hill’s CropOS computational platform with a portfolio of novel genome editing nucleases to create a comprehensive genome-editing system. More here.

 The Yield Launches New Sensing and Predictions System

The Yield, the Australian sensing, IoT and predictive analytics startup for aquaculture and agriculture has launched a new product for agriculture, Sensing+, following on from the company’s aquaculture products. The Yield focuses on monitoring microclimates to give farmers granular and predictive insights about what’s happening at multiple points on their farm using artificial intelligence and predictive modeling.

Plenty Hires Former Tesla Director

West San Francisco-based vertical farming company Plenty has hired former Tesla director of battery technology Kurt Kelty as its new senior vice president of operations. Kelty worked at Tesla for more than ten years after spending the previous 14 at the Energy Lab at Panasonic. Kelty was reportedly one of the longest-serving executives at Tesla and is one of several Tesla executives lately leaving the company. More here.

Reserve Hires Amazon Alum

New York-based restaurant reservations tech startup Reserve has hired former head of sales and operations for Amazon Restaurants Michael Wesner as its new chief operations officer. Wesner spent six years at Amazon after holding previous senior positions at BuyWithMe, a flash deal site which was acquired by Gilt Groupe in 2011, and

Western Growers, S2G Select AgSharks Pitch Contest Finalists

Farmer cooperative Western Growers and S2G Ventures have picked six finalists to present at the AgSharks pitch competition in Las Vegas on October 31, 2017. Successful entrants will compete for equity investments totaling up to $250,000. Selected entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts, including the AgSharks, who will decide on the spot whether and how much to invest. The entrepreneurs must then accept the offer, negotiate or decline. The six chosen startups are: AgVoice is a mobile voice-interaction service designed for food and agriculture professionals to capture insights on the go, Augean Robotics, a robot manufacturer for produce pickers that functions as virtual conveyor belt between pick points and collection points, Farm Dog, an end-to-end pest and disease management platform that helps growers optimize pesticide use, increase yields and promote environmental sustainability, Food-Origins, which provides cloud data services to hand-picked crops through a handheld, low cost scanner, Hazel Technologies, the spoilage reduction technology, and  iFood, a software and database solutions provider that partners with companies to build customer-specific secure portal site applications for efficient data management, reporting and process improvement. 

Other News That’s Fit To Chew

  • Eater is maintaining a complete list of the restaurants, vineyards and food businesses affected by the Northern California Wild Fires.
  • Greg Asbed, a co-founder of the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, a workers’ rights organization that helped end systemic abuses—including human slavery—in Florida’s tomato fields, has been awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant, reports The New Food Economy.
  • Broadening standards and questionable marketing lead Civil Eats to ask if sustainable meat, purchased online can be trusted.
  • Slim Jim is bucking nearly 90 years of tradition by introducing a line of grass-fed meat sticks, reports Food Dive.
  • All the talk about cultured meat has Gizmodo asking if eating cultured human flesh would be cannibalism.

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