On this 52nd Earth Day, I wanted to take a moment to bring your attention to the significant role agriculture has and continues to play in the state of the environment, and, more importantly, how Marrone Bio Innovations is leading the way with solution-focused products and practices.

There is no doubt that agriculture has a pivotal role in global food security and the preservation and protection of the world in which we live. We are part of two very distinct, and sometimes conflicting, challenges:

The Food Production Challenge

  • Agriculture is responsible for feeding 7 billion people on this planet1
  • A 2020 report found that nearly 690 million people—or 8.9 percent of the global population—are hungry, up by nearly 60 million in five years. The food security challenge will only become more difficult, as the world will need to produce about 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people.2
  • Over one third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted.2

The Natural Resources Challenge

  • Over 69 percent of the fresh water on earth is used for agriculture.1
  • The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations contends that 18% of all greenhouse gas emissions are from livestock production.1
  • In some countries, agriculture production is the leading source of pollution.1

It is certainly not easy to be a farmer these days! As climate change impacts farming operations more than ever, agriculture also has a significant and very real responsibility to produce a bountiful crop as efficiently as possible so that all may have access to a safe and reliable food supply.

Marrone Bio Innovations was founded on the relentless pursuit to find a better way – a better way to grow and protect our crops, a better way to farm, a better way to protect our planet. Today, more than ever, we continue to forge that path with passion and perseverance. We are determined to be part of the solution to world hunger and a positive contributor to reducing the impact agriculture has on climate change. Below are just a few examples of how we have been putting our passion into practice over the last 13 months:

Member of the United Nations Global Compact – Last March (2021) we joined more than 15,000 companies in the world’s largest corporate sustainability initiative. Together we’re committed to aligning business strategy and operations with universal principles on human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption which are outlined in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Developer of Pollinator-Safe Products – Did you know that pollinators are responsible for about one third of the U.S. agriculture production output?3 Or, better said, one out of every three bites of food you take is the result of a hard-working pollinator. I am so proud to be part of a team that provides farmers with pollinator-safe products. According to Xerces Society of Invertebrate Conservation our products Regalia® Biofungicide, Stargus® Biofungicide, Venerate® XC Bioinsecticide, Grandevo® Bioinsecticide and Majestene® Bionematicide are among the safest pesticides on the market for pollinators.

Leader in Third Party Climate Impact Product Analysis – Last spring and fall we announced two Climate Impact Analysis Reports highlighting two of our leading insecticide products,BIOSt® Nematicide seed treatment, sold by our customer-distributor, Albaugh LLC, and Venerate XC Bioinsecticide, our top-selling insecticide. Both products shined in the life-cycle evaluation with Venerate XC scoring an ‘Excellent’ or, 8.6 out of 10, and BIOSt® Nematicide scoring an ‘Outstanding’ or, 9.9 out of 10.

What does this mean to agriculture and farmers? For every one-million acres of soybeans and corn seed treated with BIOSt Nematicide, more than one million pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are reduced respectively. Or, BIOSt Nematicide seed treatment reduces greenhouse gas emissions in soybeans and corn by more than 85 percent compared to conventional pesticides.

These impressive scores are the result of the contributions of the entire MBI team – from research and development to supply chain, manufacturing and distribution – we have worked together to not only deliver high-quality, efficacious products in a cost-effective and timely manner, but to do so in a way that also keeps the impact of the environment at the forefront of the process. It’s NOT an easy job and I am so very proud of our ability to do this and do it well. Bravo team!

Marrone Michigan Manufacturing (MMM) to Convert to Renewable Energy – One of the valuable insights we gathered from the Venerate XC Bioinsecticide Climate Impact Analysis was the amount of electricity and steam required to produce the product. The result was a decision to switch Marrone Bio’s manufacturing facility in Bangor, Michigan to all-renewable energy as soon as possible, a move that will reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions Venerate generates by 32 percent. The estimated date for conversion is early summer 2022.

Road to Zero Waste – Lastly, I wanted to quickly highlight the entire company’s effort to move to Zero Waste by 2023. This is no easy task and requires each and every one of us to get involved and be a part of this big, somewhat intimidating goal. I’d like to thank Lacey Gimple for being our champion in Davis and Nancy Nomellini for heading up efforts at our headquarters in Raleigh. Once we achieve certification in Davis – expected in early 2023 – we will take the knowledge learned and apply it to efforts at MMM and Helsinki. Our expectation is all our current operating locations (Davis, Raleigh, Bangor and Helsinki) will be certified zero waste by 2024.

It’s been fun to see so many MBI employees join in our “Road to Zero Waste” challenge this month via the photos and videos on social media. I encourage all of you to participate in Earth Day/Month activities in some way: picking up trash to aid in the Great Global Cleanup® initiative, planting a tree to support The Canopy Project, or simply using reusable containers and disposing of items responsibly. There are so many ways – large and small – we can participate to preserve and protect this beautiful planet in which we live.

To our employees: thank-you again for all your hard work in making Marrone Bio Innovations a recognized leader in sustainability. Your passion is apparent. Keep up the great work!

To our customers and industry partners: a sincere appreciation for your support in our mission to bring safer, more sustainable and efficacious products to growers globally. Together, we are leading the way, owning our part in this larger discussion of food security and agriculture sustainability, and proactively serving as part of the solution. Let’s keep forging ahead!

Happy Earth Day Everyone,

Kevin Helash
Chief Executive Officer
Marrone Bio Innovations

Sources:

  1. World Wildlife Fund: Sustainable Agriculture, Overview
  2. World Bank: Climate-Smart Agriculture
  3. United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Services, Pennsylvania – The Importance of Pollinators