As I mentioned in my kickoff post, we will host a series of blog interviews over the next two weeks with speakers from our upcoming PreCommerce Summit (March 10) and Movers & Shapers Summit (March 12). Today’s interview is with the Associate Director of the Borlaug Institute, Julie Borlaug. Julie will be part of a panel called “Future of…” at our PreCommerce Summit on Thursday, March 10.
A little bit about Julie… She is the granddaughter of Nobel Peace prize laureate and father of the Green Revolution Dr. Norman Borlaug. She is an advocate for innovation and technology with an eye toward ending hunger and poverty. She takes pride in continuing the Borlaug legacy and strives to inspire next generation
Now onto the interview:
- Aaron: How do you define innovation?
Julie: I believe innovation is the constant desire to create better systems. The more out-of-the–box and creative the better.
- Aaron: What are you or your organization doing to drive innovation?
Julie: Personally, I am advocate for the agriculture sector and speak often about the need to drive innovation as well as support and fund it. Educating a public far removed from agriculture is a priority in order to gain their acceptance and understanding.
In regards, to the Borlaug Institute, we are fortunate to take the best research and technology from Texas A&M, as well as our private and public sector partners and create self-sustaining projects in developing countries to further their agriculture systems. We work both with high-tech and low-tech innovations.
- Aaron: Who is someone in your industry (or outside) that you admire? Why?
Julie: Of course, I will always admire my grandfather for his passion & never-ending fight to end hunger and poverty through agriculture and innovation. Additionally, Bill and Melinda Gates. I realize you asked for only one but I do not think you can mention one without the other. Because of their commitment to agriculture, the public, governments and other foundations are finally recognizing the important role agriculture plays in creating stable, healthy, educated and food secure societies.
- Aaron: Where do you see your industry being in 3 years? 5? 10?
I hope that agriculture will not have to continue to fight the uphill battle against the anti-innovation & anti-science movement. This anti- backlash has blocked critical innovation from reaching those most in need. Innovation in all sectors is a must including agriculture. It helps create more sustainable & resilient farming systems, and a safer more nutritious food supply.
Additionally, we will see more start-ups and young people involved in agriculture and high tech/data science that will help create a more sustainable system. Synthetic biology will be accepted without the concerns surrounding GMOS.
- Aaron: What book are you reading right now? How did you choose it?
Julie: I am reading an advanced copy of Roger Thurow’s Frist 1,000 Days: A Crucial Time for Mothers and Children – And the World. It’s the 3rd book in a series in which Roger explains the complexities of national and international agriculture and the flight of small-holders farmers. These are compelling books that everyone wanting to understand agriculture and why it is so critical need to read.
- For fun: what three things would you make sure you brought with you in a zombie apocalypse?
Julie: I would just bring Chuck Norris.
Thank you Julie. And maybe the best answer yet on what to bring to the zombie apocalypse. We look forward to hearing more from you on the future of agriculture at our PreCommerce Summit.