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Bill Gates, of IT Renown, says Biotechnology is Critical to our Survival

February 18th, 2012 by Andrew J. Ripley

In his annual letter for The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Microsoft founder and Foundation co-chair, explained how he believes biotechnology holds the key for the survival of our society. This piqued my interest knowing that Bill Gates made his vast fortune growing and cultivating the IT industry.  He emphasized a couple points in the letter that really hit home for us at TransGenada:

  1. Population growth over the last couple centuries has exploded.
  2. Using biotech to innovate how we grow food is a key contributing technology for our long term survival.
  3. Fiscal support for this research isn’t enough.

For anyone who attended our Official Unveiling Event, points 1-3 should sound very familiar. In our presentation, we looked at a couple graphs showing the human population — how it rises and falls after periods of technological innovation and outbreak (respectively) and specifically we looked at how over the last 200 years, our population skyrocketed from one to seven billion people. The next graph shows our projected population growth in the next thirty years with an expected two billion additional people(see the image below). We also examined some of the ways our scientific research can be used for real world solutions. Already there are companies creating crops that are drought resistant or salmon that grow twice as fast!

Human Population Growth - Graph shows Recent and Projected population growth Data

Human Population Growth - Recent and Projected Data

The final point, Mr. Gates talks about, is one that I’d like to look at a bit more closely. Consider the fact that Gates at his core is an entrepreneur and his foundation is a humanitarian effort that has spent over $2 billion dollars fighting poverty and world hunger. Considering this and as someone rooted in business but with a big heart, I love that he isn’t asking for simple donations–no! He’s asking for a different sort of commitment. One that is both self-serving and meanwhile humanitarian.

Just the idea of this gives me chills. For so much of my life I’ve questioned how effective our hunger relief efforts have been. But now, that beauty-pageant-want-to-help-world-hunger pipe-dream isn’t as unobtainable in my mind. Thanks Mr. Gates.  I think it’s fair to say we see eye-to-eye.

For anyone interested in looking at a summary, I liked Logan Hawkes’ take on Gates’ letter on The Western Farm Press’ website.

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