Sylvia serves on 2Blades’ Board of Directors and is the CEO of AquaBounty Technologies, Inc., a land-based aquaculture company utilizing biotechnology and digitization to enhance productivity and sustainability in seafood around the world. With over 25 years in the Food and Agribusiness industry, Sylvia brings tremendous experience in leadership and operational activities, as well as a deep commitment to the welfare of people and the environment.
What motivated you to work in the agbiotech space?
I’ve always been interested in agriculture, having worked for a number of agribusiness companies. Farmers and ranchers around the globe have a tough job and, without them, there is no food security. When I had the opportunity to work with AquaBounty, I learned how critically important biotechnology is and will continue to be to solve the global challenges we face today, like food security for 9 billion people and protecting the planet. It’s a misunderstood science and the benefits, when well-researched and science-based, can improve nutrition, food access and productivity.
What technology/innovation are you most excited about in the next 5-10 years?
There are two types of innovation that I’m excited about as we move toward the future. The continued use of genetic engineering and gene editing to solve for improved nutrition and yield, particularly in countries that are poor, are technologies where we are barely scratching the surface in terms of what can be accomplished. Another innovation is in the digital space and its impact on agriculture. We can map growing regions and pinpoint how to improve yields using data in ways we’ve never been able to in the past. Precision agriculture and regenerative farming have the feel of buzz words but increasingly will become a part of the agricultural landscape. Couple those two types of innovation and we can produce more food with fewer resources and a reduced impact on the planet.
What excites you about 2Blades and your involvement on the Board?
2Blades mission aligns with my passion and support for agricultural biotech. When that is coupled with a focus on small holder farmers to improve their success, it’s an organization that will have tremendous impact. The large seed companies have to keep producing a return for their shareholders, so the types of farmers 2Blades is focused on aren’t as attractive to them. However, once those farmers have the types of crops they need to address their challenges, large players will become more interested. 2Blades is foundational to bending that curve and laying the groundwork because it operates as a nonprofit but with an eye toward commercial impact.
What are you reading/listening/watching right now?
I’m reading Target Tehran, a book about how Israel is attempting to stop a nuclear Iran;
Change your questions, Change your life, which focuses on resetting how you approach challenges and difficult people; and The Measure, a fictional book about how people react to knowing just how long they will live.
I’m watching Season 8 of “Shetland” and a number of other British homicide dramas through Britbox and “All The Light We Cannot See”. I enjoyed the novel and the series is well done.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I’m working with the University of Arkansas on rural rejuvenation; supporting early stage entrepreneurs through Endeavor and riding my two horses; Courageous and Cruze.
What gets you motivated to come to work each day?
I enjoy the mental stimulation of my work and the impact I believe we are making on the ability to develop new technologically advanced approaches to aquaculture. And, I enjoy working with our team at AquaBounty. It’s a group of talented and passionate people who want to make a difference.
What is one thing you would like the general public to know about your work at AquaBounty?
I’d like consumers to better understand the benefits of biotechnology and in particular our salmon. What we do has to become part of the future of aquaculture. There are no safety or environmental risks based on the 25+ years of research and testing. We need more healthy protein production in the US and around the world and our solution contributes to filling that gap in supply and at an affordable price that makes salmon more affordable for those on limited budgets.