It’s not all that often that Rotary Club of Sacramento’s guest speaker shows up with gallon jugs of fungus and large Mylar bags of microbes—but then, it’s not all that often that Dr. Pam Marrone is our guest speaker.
The CEO and founder of Marrone Bio Innovations was guest speaker Tuesday at the Red Lion, providing a fast-paced presentation that included photos of bugs that get so agitated by a Marrone Bio product that they throw up and stop having sex—much like some RCS members (we’ve been told).
Introduced by Chair of the Day Judy Kjelstrom, Dr. Marrone plowed through the entire field of biopesticides and biostimulants manufactured by her publicly traded company in Davis and in its satellite facility in Bangor, MI.
Her company, which raised $56 million through its IPO in 2013 and another $40 million in a more recent second offering, uses naturally occurring organisms and extracts from natural materials to produce alternative forms of crop protection, water treatment and industrial materials.
“We’re moving from seven billion people to nine billion people by the year 2050,” she says. “The question is, how are we going to sustainably feed all those people? We’ve got to change the way we do things. Whether you believe in man-caused environmental change or not, it is happening and we’ve got to find ways to safely deal with pest management and other issues.”
According to Marrone, the biopesticide industry is still in its relative infancy. Total worldwide sales of pesticides last year was about $50 billion; only about $2 billion of that was biopesticide, but that industry segment is growing two to three times faster than chemical pesticides.
Another speed factor that is important for Marrone Bio: speed to market. Because their products are naturally based are non-toxic, Marrone Bio is able to get regulatory approval for new products in about three years—roughly one-third the time of chemical products.
Pests are also less likely to develop resistant strains to things like Venerate, a biopesticide that when eaten by chewing and sucking insects and mites causes the bugs to immediately become agitated, vomit and stop reproducing.
Marrone says the key to the future is a balance. Bio products are not likely to completely replace chemicals, but they can be used together by agriculture to create a more sustainable and more productive model.
President Susan Sheridan presented Past-President Thom Gilbert with his new name badge and past-president’s pin. Beside a hug from Susan, Past-President Thom received a standing ovation from his fellow Rotarians.
Kevin Williams of KVIE was sworn in as the newest member of Rotary Club of Sacramento by President Susan. Williams was introduced by Kevin Smith-Fagan, also of KVIE, who along with Bob Miller sponsored Williams for membership. President Susan asked all club members to put $1 in a bag on their table, the money to be used to start Williams on his way to his first Eddie Mulligan and Paul Harris.
President Susan also extracted contributions from a number of members: $300 from Chris Ann Bachtel in honor of her 15th anniversary as a Rotarian having been the same day as President Susan’s first meeting…$250 from Dan McVeigh in honor of his first grandson, born in June…$250 from Past-President Ken Noack, Jr., in honor of his recent trip to several European countries and mountains…$250 from Judy Payne in recognition of her upcoming trip to Boston and Maine…$200 from Michele Amaral who just acquired a pilot’s license and then flew her mother to New Orleans…$100 from Randy Friedman in tribute to former club member Patti Monczewski, who has moved to Texas to accept a new job…$72 from Carolyn Carr in honor of her 73rd birthday tomorrow.
Bob Miller announced that Golf 4 Kids, which will be Aug. 11, is still short about 50 players. This is the longest-running fundraiser in Rotary…Randy Friedman reminded members that the new member reception is tomorrow evening at Chops (5:30)...Jim Phillips assured members that the fire currently burning in Yosemite will not interfere with the hike planned for August 6…John Swentkowsky assured Rotarians that our softball team was ready to stop behaving like the SF Giants and beat Arden Arcade Rotary this weekend.
Dr. Anne Kjemtrup of the SALAM Islamic Temple provided the invocation. She was introduced by Amin Elmallah. Dana Jones and Mike Pearson acted as greeters. Ron Crane sponsored the wine reception, during which Randy Friedman provided piano music.
Next week’s speaker, also at the Red Lion, will be Sutter Medical Center CEO and fellow Rotarian Carrie Owen Plietz, who will provide a preview of the new $750 million hospital scheduled to open in October.