Thoughts from the President During a Pandemic

May 15, 2021 - Three Highlights from the Week

Dear Danforth Center Community,

A lot happened around the Danforth Center this week, so there’s a lot on my mind. Let’s touch on three important recent events or issues.

Plotting a Plant-Based Meat Revolution. Talk about provocative! Pat Brown communicated his vision to eliminate large-scale production of animal-based meat - all of it - by 2035 during his virtual Conversations presentation this week. Despite your reaction just then, we should listen carefully. Pat Brown is founder and CEO of Impossible Foods and the most recognized name in the plant-based meat industry, one of the fastest growing segments in food. He’s motivated by the imperative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and loss of global biodiversity; replacement of farmed and ranched animals with high-protein, plant-based products at large scale could achieve these outcomes. Concerns about environmental impacts of animal farming are why many of us have adopted reduced-meat, vegetarian or vegan diets. The migration toward plant-based alternatives has high relevance for the Danforth Center, as Pat noted the critical need for research to improve composition, quality and uses of plant protein and other constituents to make more diverse, desirable and affordable foods that consumers choose over animal-based foods. As Pat also stated, consumer choice will determine just how close he gets to realizing his vision.

A Unicorn on Danforth Center Campus. This week’s announcement that Benson Hill will be going public as a unicorn (valuation greater than $1 billion) created a sonic boom in the AgTech world. Benson Hill, with deep roots in, and technology from, the Danforth Center is the most prominent start-up success story on campus. They’re growing rapidly in the EDGE@BRDG building and delivering products that include high-protein crops and ingredients for the plant-based meat and animal-alternative markets. Benson Hill’s success sends a loud, positive signal to other companies, start-ups, investors and talented people who are considering 39North as a home. It also inspires the question: What will the next unicorn from the Danforth Center look like?

Shedding the Mask? The updated CDC guidelines for mask-wearing and distancing by vaccinated individuals are intended to be a significant step toward normalcy. The guidelines are grounded in the high efficacy of current COVID-19 vaccines in protecting against illness. How will the new CDC guidance affect operations at the Danforth Center? This will take a little more time to answer, because our current situation is complicated by having both vaccinated (62% reported as of May 14) and non-vaccinated individuals onsite. While we are targeting 75% fully vaccinated before transitioning to Phase 2 and relaxation of several restrictions, details about masking requirements and a few other workplace arrangements have yet to be fully defined.

Take care and have a good weekend.

Jim Carrington, President and Chief Executive Officer

Previous Weekly Messages from Jim Carrington

Danforth Center Response Plan

The Danforth Plant Science Center recognizes the potential of exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our building and the impact it could have on our people and the Center. Accordingly, we have a plan in place in the event of a positive test for COVID-19 of an individual who was present in our Building(s).

Danforth Center Updates

During this unique moment in history, the first priority of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the health and safety of our Center community, our families, and those who work with us.