Last weekend I was in Grayling Michigan for the famous canoe marathon, a 14 hour non-stop race through the night. The Ausable, know as the Holy Waters, is a beautiful river with many naturally fallen trees, obstacles, and tight bends. Given the obstructions, some racers memorize every bend in the river, others have LED lights that break the dark. As 80 canoes passed us around 10 pm, the brief lights highlighted the night’s hatch. 100,000 bugs otherwise hidden in the dark, hovering over the river. Alive for a night, dead in the morning.
Over dinner, my 15 year old niece told me “Have you heard about CRISPR? Gene editing will change the world”. GMO is so Y2K. Later, as we watched the bugs outed by the canoe lights, she announced: “In the future we will get all our protein from bugs”.
Gen Z has the same zeal to help society, but have moved on from the “Hope” that drove their older siblings. Gen Z are entrepreneurs making hope a reality. If my niece is right, I am guessing by the time I retire I will be eating “Bag of Bugs” and like it. Tenderloin will go the way of Betamax. Gen Z bio hackers are tomorrow’s Zuckerberg.
The world’s population is on track to increase by nearly 50% over the next 45 years, reaching 9.1 billion by 2050. But food production needs to grow even faster. Why? Because we are also growing our standard of living. People want meat, not rice. More cows, pigs, and chickens means more corn and soy for feed. It means greater demand on farmland and yield. More farmland means more deforestation, water use, erosion, chemicals, etc.
Or does it?
The thing about innovation is the day before it is revealed, a problem seems impossible. The day after, the solution is obvious. Did you think the iPhone would become a critical appendage on June 29, 2007 when it was introduced? Could my niece live without it?
When iSelect hears that prognosticators think we won’t have enough food, we wonder….
- Will indoor farms, derived from innovation in growing pot, deliver leafy greens year round in every major city?
- Will CRISPER optimize photosynthesis to match LED spectrum light?
- If 38% of corn crop goes to feed, what happens to farming when instead it comes from a factory?
- Will your next hamburger be grown in a lab?
- Will crops be optimized to meet unique needs of customers at Walmart, Whole Foods and Panera, turning commodity into specialty crops?
- Will electric cars wipe out the ethanol market? And 29% of the related US corn crop?
- Will demand for farmland actually go down, rather than up?
iSelect thrives on one simple truth: Insurmountable forecasts of the future are certainly always wrong because if it really matters entrepreneurs fix it.
Here is what I am reading this week to understand how smart people get things wrong:
- Population Decline and the Great Economic Reversal – Maybe we flipped the sign convention in the population calculation
- Enernet: what we got wrong about the internet – Ethernet inventor Bob Metcalfe explains how they were so wrong about the internet
- Science May Have Discovered the Solution to World Hunger – why not make proteins in a factory rather than the farm
- The Worst Tech Predictions of All Time – we rarely guess right
- Nuclear Energy and the Fossil Fuel: Hubert’s original 1956 Paper on Peak Oil, an accurate but irrelevant conclusion
- The Population Bomb Dr. Paul Ehrlich’s 1968 forecast that the in the 70’s and 80’s 100s of Millions would die of starvation – are we dead yet?
Other things I learned this week:
- Carrots are Good for Eyesight: A WWII ruse to mask Allie’s technology
- In 1878, the NY Times Warned us of Thomas Edison’s Evil Aerophone
Let me know if you read something I’d like, or if there are other sources I should add to my weekly reading.
And the bugs? Our venture team is now looking at bug protein. More there than I realized, now that we are shining a little light on it.
Happy birthday Louis Armstrong,