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Track 4 Session Details

AFCC Conference Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are 90 minutes, each one has one moderator with a maximum of four to five speakers.


Breakout sessions will be focused on the following five subject areas:



Track 4 Breakout Session Details

Synthetic Biology, Alternative Proteins, Regenerative Agriculture, Food, Fiber, Biofuels


This Track is Sponsored by:

Monday, November 13, 2023

All sessions for this Track will be held in Baltimore 4


Session 1: 8:00 AM TO 9:30 AM: Synthetic Biology Technology:  A Breadth of Approaches Creating an Array of Products

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Moderator: Kevin Jarrell, CEO, Modular Genetics


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Douglas Gay

Senior Director

Ginkgo Bioworks

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Chad Haynes

Director of Government Strategy and Technology Partnerships


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Paul Hill

Senior Vice President


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Kayla Nemr

Associate Director - Experimental Systems Biology


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John W. K. Oliver

VP of Research and Development


Synthetic biology technology enables biotechnology companies to develop new commercial products through bio-engineering of genes.  The target of a particular bio-engineering effort might be the modification of specific RNAs, proteins or other biomolecules, often resulting in the production of unique engineered microbes or enzymes, which can be used to produce chemicals, materials, fuels, and more.  The aim of this panel is to provide examples of the use of synthetic biology tools to produce particular novel bioproducts.  The panel will showcase a breadth of approaches, which are enabling the launch of a diverse array of commercial products in sectors such as personal care, nutrition, flavors & fragrances, and others.  

Session 2: 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM: Value Chain Perspectives on Low Carbon Feedstocks for SAF and Renewable Chemicals and Products

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Moderator: Bev Paul, Founder, Davenport Policy


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Ray Daniels

Seed Sustainability Manager


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David Kolsrud

VP Business Development

CapCO2 Solutions

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Roric Paulman 
Owner, Paulman Farms

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Jason Schmidt

Senior Director Regulatory Affairs

Danimer Scientific

As agricultural crops emerge as critical feedstocks for alternative fuels and chemicals, the carbon intensity of those feedstocks relative to petroleum-based incumbents must be lower to provide value as sectors strive to reduce their carbon emissions. Low CI values begin at the farm as regenerative agriculture practices provide clear reductions in the carbon profile of plant-based alternative chemicals and fuels. Regenerative agriculture is a proven solution to reducing farmgate emissions with practices ranging from fertilizer management to tillage to cover crop applications, among other opportunities. This panel will explore ways those practices combined with agricultural technology applications, impact measurement and verification end-user involvement can meet challenges across agricultural feedstock value chains.

Session 3: 1:30 PM TO 3:00 PM: Boosts to Enrich Soil & Beneficial Plant Traits for Production of Agri Products

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Moderator: David J. Glass, President, D. Glass Associates, Inc.


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Jamie Bacher


Boost Biomes

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Ben Cloud


Biodel AG Inc

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Chad Pawlak Sr.


Locus Agriculture Solutions

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Josh Silverman



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Kristi Snell

Chief Science Officer and VP of Research

Yield10 Bioscience

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Keith Matthews
Of Counsel,
Wiley Rein LLP

Jamie Bacher, CEO, Boost Biomes

Increasing efficacy and reliability of multi-microbial products for use in agriculture

There are many drivers for the adoption of biologicals products in agriculture. However, biologicals are typically considered less effective and reliable than chemical products, which has slowed their adoption. Boost Biomes has developed multi-microbial and endophytic crop protection products that are highly effective and address critical, unmet needs. These products are more effective than standard microbial products, and often as effective as chemical products. Furthermore, our products can be incorporated into a standard, integrated pest management strategy with extremely low residual pesticide levels. The Boost Biomes platform identifies actual interactions between microbes, enabling discovery and development of a broad range of novel, effective and reliable crop input biological products.

Ben Cloud, CEO, Biodel AG, Inc.

Microbial Soil Reclamation with Cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria are inhabitants of soils, where they form micro-biotic assemblages on the soil surface and with other organisms such as lichens, mosses, bacteria, algae, and fungi (Weber, Budel, & Belnap, 2016). Cyanobacteria are able to survive long droughts (Bar-Eyal et al., 2015), prolonged ultraviolet exposure (Garcia-Pichel & Castenholz, 1991), and high salt concentrations (Chen, Li, & Liu, 2003). This capacity along with the possibility of isolating them from soils and culturing them ex-situ, makes cyanobacterial inoculation a potentially successful soil restoration bioengineering tool. Our results showed that cyanobacteria inoculation with N-fixing species that are present worldwide, can rapidly modify properties of reconstructed soil substrates, resulting in a considerable increase in biocrust coverage, cyanobacteria biomass, and soil organic Carbon levels. The benefits of applying cyanobacteria as bio-tools to enhance soil fertility and initiate recovery of soil function in infertile substrates may be substantial, e.g. by reducing associated costs of external fertilizer and amendment inputs (Maestre et al,. 2017,; Singh et al., 2016). Cyanobacterial biofertilizer formulations have been reported to be very useful in ameliorating various physio-chemical properties of marginal soils and the EPS (exopolysaccharide's) produced by cyanobacteria seems to play an important role (Nisha et al., 2007). Since salinity is a major constraint to crop growth and germination is the most sensitive and decisive stage for successful crop establishment (Soltani et al., 2007). Production of EPS was found to be stimulated by salts which in turn had significant Na+ removal capabilities. Sequester, a Cyanobacteria based crop input.


Keith Matthews, Of Counsel, Wiley Rein LLP

Regulatory Challenges Impacting Adoption of Novel, Innovative Agricultural Inputs

Each of the technology producers presenting during this session has developed, and are developing, novel, innovative products that will have positive agronomic and environmental impacts. That said, agricultural input products are one of the most heavily regulated sectors in U.S. industry. I will discuss some of the challenges facing new product developers as they seek to take products to market.

Chad Pawlak, CEO, Locus Agriculture

Why Microbes are the Leading Factor for Soil Carbon Sequestration?

Growing in popularity around the globe, carbon farming has the potential to be a major contributor in reducing carbon emissions. But there are still a lot of questions around these programs. Namely, how impactful are the efforts? And are the reductions permanent? What are the true benefits to farmer and farming? As a living system, soil depends on the presence of carbon to function in the areas of biological productivity, ecological vitality, and plant and animal health. Soil carbon is the primary component of soil organic matter, which encompasses all organic components of the soil system including living and dead plant and animal tissues, and soil microbes. Soil microbes break down plant organic matter to carbon dioxide or convert it to dissolved organic carbon (DOC) compounds. As DOC binds to soil particles, it allows for long-term carbon storage, making the soil an effective carbon sink. While plants take in most of their carbon from the air, organic matter is the food and energy source for soil bacteria, fungi, worms, and other members of the soil food web. Microbes are the most valuable player (MVP) in global efforts to capture and store soil carbon efficiently and effectively, according to a most recent global-scale study published in Nature (2023). The multi-year study indicates that creating permanent carbon capture in regenerative agriculture should include the use of microbial-based products, such as biologicals. This presentation shares the potential of a different type of carbon farming program – one based around the use of microbes, or agricultural biologicals that includes on-farm carbon sequestration data from the industry’s first microbial-based carbon farming program.


Josh Silverman, CEO, Windfall Bio

Transforming dilute methane emissions into on-site fertilizers

Windfall Bio is a nature-based agricultural technology company that harnesses methane-eating microbes to transform harmful methane into organic soil nutrients on site. Windfall Bio will drastically reduce the carbon footprint of the Earth’s food system, increasing profits for the farmers that feed our communities without increasing costs to consumers.  Windfall Bio provides microbes, digestors, and associated services that allow for the capture and transformation of methane from a variety of sources, including direct capture of methane carbon from the atmosphere.

Kristi Snell, CSO and VP of Research, Yield 10 Bioscience, Inc.

Camelina, a versatile oilseed crop for sustainable manufacture of low carbon intensity seed products

Yield10 Bioscience’s goal is to develop and commercialize the oilseed Camelina to produce low carbon intensity (CI) seed products. The company is developing Camelina to produce: 1) low CI feedstock oil for renewable diesel and sustainable aviation fuels (SAF), 2) omega-3 oils containing high levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids for sustainable aquaculture feeds, and 3) renewable, biodegradable polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) bioplastics as a new co-product with seed oil. Winter varieties of Camelina are especially intriguing as a production platform in that they grow off season on otherwise fallow land reducing or eliminating indirect land use changes to further improve CI scores. Yield10 estimates that if 25% of the corn and soybean acres in the US were planted with oilseed cover crops this would enable over 40 million acres of production. Cover cropping with winter Camelina provides added benefits of reducing nutrient runoff and soil erosion and improving soil quality and health. Yield10 is developing Camelina into a robust crop for broad farmer adoption by incorporating weed control systems that allow seamless integration into current crop rotations. The company is also developing new traits to increase seed yield and/or oil content to boost revenue per acre. Results from these programs will be highlighted.

Session 4: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM : Significant Advances in Environmental Analytics and Their Important Commercial Impact on the Bio-Based Economy

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Moderator: Paul Zorner, President, BleuJaune Advisors


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Julie Bushell


Ethos Connected

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Josh Collins

Chief Technology Officer

EcoFluxNet, Inc

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Bill Salas

Chief Strategy Officer


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Robin Woodward


Carbon Asset Solutions

An important adage applied to agriculture is “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”. Regenerative agricultural practices hold great promise for improved agricultural productivity - as well as rural economic and environmental security. However, current methods for evaluating the outcome and benefits of these practices are complex and expensive. Producers need simplified, cost-effective tools for determining impact and outcomes associated with use of the many practices associated with regenerative agriculture. Given regional and local differences in climate, precipitation, soil type and the crops being grown advanced analytics are especially important to relate specific practices to the benefit on specific farms. This panel brings organizations together who have 1) developed advanced, simplified, accurate, scalable and cost-effective analytical methods and models for evaluating soil carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions such as N20, CH4, NH4 and CO2; 2) utilize these tools to help growers make day-to-day management decisions as well as guide them on science-based methodologies which allow generation of accurate, defendable estimates of atmospheric GHG emission reductions associated with specific on-farm agricultural practice changes; 3) can discuss creating transparency with these analytical techniques for meeting corporate Net-Zero goals, as well as guiding proper structuring of federal and state policies incentivizing regenerative agriculture and 4) communicating these outcomes to consumers, environmental groups and the media who often villainize agriculture as an outsized contributor to a warming world and who suspect regenerative agricultural terminology as “greenwashing" to counter those concerns.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

All sessions for this Track will be held in Baltimore 4

Session 5: 1:30 PM to 3:00 PM : The Value of Soil Carbon Capture Sequestration (SCCS) for Carbon Negative Solutions (Low Carbon Intensity CI score materials)

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Moderator: Joel Stone, President and Executive Director, Climate Systems Solutions


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Karen (O'Brien)Boyd

Carbon Services Senior Manager

Lee Enterprises Consulting

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Aldyen Donnelly

Co-Founder & Director


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Mitchell Hora


Continuum Ag

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Charlotte Levy

Managing Advisor

Carbon 180

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Paul Overby


Lee Farms

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Carrie Werkmeister

Senior Soil Scientist


Join this diverse panel of thought leaders in Soil Carbon Capture Sequestration that are identifying and delivering on ideas and solutions to improve soil health while sequestering carbon and improving the water holding capacity of soil. Each will offer perspectives from their point of view in terms of the approaches that can offer incentives in agriculture and the impact it has on agricultural economics and security of the food supply chain. This will truly be a informative panel that offers some converging insights on low carbon intensity agricultural materials. We will discuss different perspectives about the types of solutions that can have an influence in meeting a net negative carbon economy using agriculture. Taking advantage of the power of soil carbon storage can offer diverse solutions towards a common goal of carbon emission reductions while also serving to improve food security and supply and water management.

Session 6: 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM: Sustainable Consumer Products from Alternative Proteins: The Global Picture!

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Moderator: Deepti Kulkarni, Partner, Covington & Burling, LLP


Lauren VieBrock

Consumer Safety Officer/Microbiology Reviewer


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David Henstrom



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Kashif Khan

Global Strategy & Business Development Leader - Alternative Proteins

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Manoj Kumar
President & CEO

Louis Dreyfus Company

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Michelle Ruiz


The production of alternative proteins continues to be driven by innovators as new sources of protein present themselves and more opportunities line themselves for feeding the rapidly growing global population.  The panel will present insight into risks, challenges, and rewards in the evolving market dynamics and strategies that will put alternative proteins at the top of global agendas


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