Wharf42 supports calls to end the effective ban on GE and GM in New Zealand

Wharf42 supports calls to end the effective ban on GE and GM in New Zealand

Wharf42 strongly supports calls to end the effective ban on GE and GM in New Zealand.

On Sunday, the National Party published a paper called ‘Harnessing Biotech’. Its plan consisted of 3 core elements;

  1. End the effective ban on GE and GM in New Zealand.
  2. Create a dedicated regulator to ensure safe and ethical use of biotechnology.
  3. Streamline approvals for trials and use of non-GE/GM biotech

We have been calling for this policy change for years. As the founders of Agritech New Zealand and a global partner to some key international players, we have witnessed at first hand the negative impact current policy has had on New Zealand agricultural research and commercialisation opportunities. Gene editing and CRISPR in particular, has been proven scientifically to support the reduction of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and improvement of on-farm productivity. These should be key priorities for the New Zealand government and removing current GE restrictions will go a long way to accelerate our success in achieving these goals.

Last month, the NZ Government released an updated version of its Agritech Industry Transformation Plan (ITP). It aimed to increase agritech exports to $8B by 2030. This number is challenging enough. With our research and industry entities operating with one hand behind their backs however, it is almost unrealistic given the widespread adoption of GE in many peer countries.

The timing of this announcement coincides with next week’s 2023 Salinas Biological Summit, which we are proudly hosting. Reducing the use of chemical pesticides on soil and plants with more biological alternatives can be accelerated with the application of GE technologies. At the moment, such work is evidenced at major US research institutions such as UC Davis. Why not AgResearch & Plant & Food Research in New Zealand who currently have to work with global partners to trial some of their incredible research offshore?

The ‘Harnessing Biotech’ policy proposal from the National Party does not suggest a biotech ‘free-for-all’. Instead, there will be a dedicated regulator to ensure the safe and ethical use of biotechology. In the past, I’ve been told by Government Ministers that when it comes to GE, it’s time for a ‘robust discussion’. Then nothing.

Wharf42 very much hopes that National’s ‘Harnessing Biotech’ plan accelerates that discussion and the country’s agritech community has the opportunity to compete globally on a level playing field. It’s that message that we will be taking to California this week.


Just 25 Tickets left for the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit!

Just 25 Tickets left for the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit!

With just over a week to go, we are delighted to share the news that we are just 25 tickets short of a SELL OUT inaugural 2023 Salinas Biological Summit. Last week, we were also stoked to announce that the International Central Valley Farm Tour on 22-23 June had SOLD OUT.

When Wharf42 sat down with the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center (WGITC) before last year’s 2035 Oceania Summit, we agreed to organize a biological-focused Summit with a strong focus on producers and growers. As regulators and retailers around the world are talking about ‘less chemistry and more biology’, we believed that this focus was increasingly important. It appears that our thinking resonated with others.

Over 30 exhibitors will now be showcasing their research and commercial applications in the biological space. Almost 50 speakers will be discussing the opportunity from a range of different stakeholder perspectives. You can view the final Summit Program here.

Next Monday (19 June), Wharf42 will be co-hosting the Global Biological Accelerator Workshop in Salinas with our friends at WGITC. We agreed last year that whilst hosting next week’s inaugural Summit was a great first step, it was not by itself a long-term play. That opportunity would come through the build of a Global Accelerator which would leverage field trials, investment and mentoring to scale high growth startups in this space.

As New Zealand’s primary sector prepares for National Fieldays this week, Jacqui and I will be heading across to California as we make final preparations for next week’s Summit. Whilst missing National Fieldays (our first miss in 8 years) is unfortunate, it’s comforting to know that we will be joined by 40 Kiwis and Aussies in Salinas.

We’ll update on how the Summit develops through both this website and Wharf42’s social media channels.

The next two weeks are going to be a blast!

The Mixing Bowl to release the Global Biological Landscape Map in Salinas

The Mixing Bowl to release the Global Biological Landscape Map in Salinas

We are excited to share the news that the team at the Mixing Bowl will be sharing their Global Biological Landscape Map at the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit. This visualization will be a world first.

Whilst investor interest in the agriculture biological space has grown exponentially, the lack of a publicly available list of ‘who’s who’ in the sector has made detailed sector analysis a challenge. The Mixing Bowl’s Global Biological Landscape Map has been designed to address this.

The Map will be shared during the Day 1 lunchbreak on Tuesday 20 June. It is an exciting development which will also assist identify potential candidates for the Global Biological Accelerator which is being launched at next month’s Salinas Summit.

If you are a researcher, entrepreneur or investor looking to understand the global biological landscape, this is one opportunity you will not want to miss.

For more details about the Salinas Summit Program, please visit Program | Wharf42 Limited (salinas-summit.com)
To purchase a Summit ticket, please visit 2023 Salinas Biological Summit | Humanitix

EXCLUSIVE: Introducing the Global Biological Accelerator

EXCLUSIVE: Introducing the Global Biological Accelerator

We are delighted to finally share the news that a key outcome of the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit will be the launch of the Global Biological Accelerator.

In extensive discussions with key sector stakeholders over the past few months, interest in building a Global Biological Accelerator program has been universally endorsed. The Accelerator’s founding stakeholder group identified some key drivers:

  • The demand from regulators and consumers for ‘more biology, less chemistry’ is growing exponentially
  • The sector requires a dedicated Accelerator to help scale qualified start-ups to build capability and capacity
  • The Accelerator should be global in reach to capture ‘best of breed’ participants
  • The Accelerator would target key global grower trial networks to enable its members to test solutions with different crops, in different growing environments, against measureable metrics
  • Growers should play a key role in the innovation process to ensure effective commercial delivery and adoption.

The Global Biological Accelerator will be based out of the Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center in Salinas.

It’s model however will have a very significant global virtual component. To enable innovators everywhere to participate 100% in the Accelerator program, the program format will make full use of available online tools to support participant engagement.

One additional key driver. To accelerate the impact of Grower Trial Networks, the Accelerator will leverage the counter-seasonal opportunity offered by northern and southern hemisphere growing seasons. This will enable Accelerator participants to trial solutions across two growing seasons per year. This will accelerate R&D and the timeframe for its commercialisation.

Each trial will be monitored by local partners to ensure that trial results are formally qualified. This will provide real-time feedback to the innovators engaged in the program to assist plan their work and process.

The Global Biological Accelerator will be supported by an Investment Committee. This Committee will identify the Accelerator’s participants during the selection process as well as provide mentoring and advise around assessing and accessing capital and capability requirements. The Committee will use its extensive network reach to assist scale Accelerator cohort members.

To quote veteran Silicon Valley VC, Bill Reichert: ‘Building a start-up has never been cheaper. Scaling one has never been more expensive’. The Investment Committee will include experienced members of the global biological ecosystem and venture capital sector to provide the range of advice needed.

To support innovators, investors and key stakeholders learn more about the opportunity, we’ll be organising in-person workshops that will enable the Accelerator founding stakeholder group to provide more detail about the Program structure, as well as receive feedback from Summit delegates.

These will take place on Monday 19 June in Salinas, immediately prior to the main Summit. We’ll post an update on this and the Summit website, closer to that date with more details about the venue and agenda.

Join the NZ – California ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ webinar – Thursday 6 April

Join the NZ – California ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’ webinar – Thursday 6 April

At last October’s 2035 Oceania Summit, New Zealand Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and the California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) Secretary, Karen Ross, signed a joint Letter of Intent. The LOI was designed to increase the level of agrifood tech collaboration between New Zealand & California, specifically in the areas of ‘Climate Smart Agriculture’.

Next Thursday, New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries and the CDFA are hosting a joint webinar to advance the purpose of the LOI. One key objective is to promote the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit which illustrates how New Zealand and California can work together.

You can view next week’s webinar via this public ZOOM link


Passcode: #AgTech23
Webinar ID: 853 6422 3336

The Agenda:  Thursday April 6th – All times NZT

9:00am              Welcoming & Introductions

9:05am              California & New Zealand Government

  • Steve Kelly, Manager, Market Access North Asia and Americas, Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand
  • Tawny Mata, Director, Office of Environmental Farming and Innovation, California Department of Food & Agriculture


9:15am              Importance of Agri-Food-Tech (15m Panel Discussion)

  • Dennis Donahue, Director, Western Growers Innovation & Technology Center
  • Peter Wren-Hilton, Founder & CEO, Wharf42


9:30am              Perspectives from California & New Zealand

  • Ed Massey, General Manager, NZ Winegrowers
    • Grower Testimonial
  • Allison Jordan, California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance
    • Grower Testimonial


10:00am            A Lighter Touch – Future of Farming

  • Julie Henderson, California Sustainable Pest Management – Director, California Department of Pesticide Regulation
  • Livia Esterhazy, Programme Director, A Lighter Touch


10:30am            Closing Remarks/END

Next week’s webinar will highlight some of the emerging opportunities being identified to accelerate the purpose of the LOI. In June, the 2023 Salinas Biological Summit provides a platform for growers, researchers, entrepreneurs and policy-makers to meet and engage with peers from around the world.

We hope you can join us next Thursday to learn more.