In recognition of Earth Day, Chicago’s Better publishing group released an article entitled, “How to Help: Fight Climate Change by Supporting These Top Chicago and National Organizations Working to Protect the Environment.” We are honored that 2Blades is featured among ten organizations that are working to protect the planet from the effects of climate change.
The author, Margaret Smith, calls attention to the threats caused by changes in weather patterns that are disrupting the environment, but she adopts a positive view, urging readers to use Earth Month to take an active role themselves in advancing solutions and promoting sustainability.
I commend Margaret’s positive outlook and fully endorse her “call to action” to engage everyone to participate in solutions. Too often these days, the upside potential for the planet is drowned out by messages predicting the coming dystopia. This Earth Day, I remain hopeful about humanity’s ability to meet the challenge that lies ahead for our planet, our children, and future generations. The potential for innovations to deliver benefits for people and the environment inspired me to co-found 2Blades in 2003, and it remains the driving force behind our work today.
For twenty years, 2Blades has been committed to accelerating agricultural innovation for long-lasting solutions to crop losses caused by diseases, insects, weeds, and the climate crisis. Our work has led to the development of advanced discovery tools and solutions, using advance crop breeding, for the most significant, intractable diseases of crops important for global food security.
The benefit of taking breeding approaches to crop pests and diseases is the ability to rely on a plant’s strong innate immunity, instead of chemicals – packing protection into the seed. Though chemicals have been an important tool for defending crops from diseases, pests, and weeds, they come at a cost, financially and environmentally. At 2Blades, we see great potential for developing resilient crops with reduced need for chemistry, an approach that can be more accessible for smallholder farmers and more sound for the environment.
In field trials, we have shown protection of wheat, potato, soybean, tomato and citrus to major diseases. As one example, 2Blades has led a project to develop bacterial spot resistance for tomatoes in Florida. For over 60 years, Bacterial Leaf Spot has devastated tomato farmers. Growers have relied heavily on copper treatments and still use them today, despite that copper accumulates in soils and has lost much of its effectiveness because bacteria adapted.
Working with collaborators at the University of Florida and University of California, Berkeley, we produced multi-year data in the field showing that resistant tomato lines stayed healthy in the presence of bacteria, importantly without any copper compounds. In fact yields were doubled compared to susceptible plants. The cost savings could be worth tens of millions of dollars to growers when deployed broadly, and importantly would spare Florida soils from accumulating toxic copper compounds.
This example demonstrates how we can protect yields, reduce chemicals, and benefit the environment. There are other cases where there are no existing resistant varieties or chemicals, and once certain diseases appear, growers know that there is nothing to do but watch their crops die. In the US and other wealthy countries, sick crops cause serious economic losses, and in lower income countries they can mean starvation.
By supporting scientific innovation, driving collaboration between public and private partners, and ensuring access for large and small farmers, 2Blades is working to ensure that sustaining our planet can be a real future.
I hope you’ll join us.
Happy Earth Day,
If you would like to support 2Blades, please contact Wilson Paine at email@example.com.
2Blades is a 501c3 charitable organization dedicated to improving crop resilience in the face of climate change to ensure adequate, nutritious food for all. 2Blades establishes and manages development programs addressing significant unsolved crop disease problems in collaboration with leading research institutions around the world and manages a portfolio of specific traits and enabling technologies that it implements in its own programs and out-licenses for broad use.
2Blades is headquartered in Evanston, IL, with research labs in Norwich, UK, and St. Paul, MN, and offices in Chapel Hill, NC, and Zurich, Switzerland.