Speakers

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Bruce Caldwell
Chief Executive Officer
3Bar Biologics

Bruce Caldwell is the founder and CEO of 3Bar Biologics, a seed stage spinout from The Ohio State University dedicated to improving yield and productivity in agriculture. Prior to starting 3Bar, Mr. Caldwell served as Senior Vice President of R&D for ScottsMiracle-Gro, where he led a global organization in the creation and delivery of a broad portfolio of innovations in the consumer lawn and garden category. Prior to joining ScottsMiracle-Gro, Mr. Caldwell worked for The Procter & Gamble Company where he held roles of increasing responsibility in Food, Beverage, and Beauty Care R&D. Mr. Caldwell holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an MBA from the University of Cincinnati. He has served as an executive mentor at Ohio State’s Center for Entrepreneurship, the Vice President’s Advisory Council for the College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences, and the board of trustees for COSI Columbus. He also currently serves as a 4RN auditor for the Nutrient Stewardship Council.

Day One

Tuesday, February 23

9:00 am | Industry Leaders Panel Discussion

Jane Fife
Chief Technology Officer
3BarBiologics

Jane Fife serves as Chief Technology Officer at 3Bar Biologics, where she leads R&D to improve bioformulation and delivery of beneficial microbes for more effective plant growth and biological control.  3Bar Biologics is an early stage startup dedicated to improving cost and performance of microbial products to more sustainably increase yield and productivity in agriculture.  Prior to 3Bar Biologics, Jane managed technology development in agribusiness at Battelle Memorial Institute, including efforts in bioformulation and precision agriculture.  Jane has a PhD in Agricultural Engineering from The Ohio State University, with research interests in applying innovative technologies for more targeted delivery of agricultural inputs and smarter, more sustainable agricultural production.

Bill Brown
President & Chief Innovation Officer
Adjuvant Plus

Natarjan Balachander
Director, Business Development
AgBiome Innovations

Natarajan (“Bala”) Balachander, Ph.D. has over two decades of experience in the ag. industry in new technology development and commercialization of new products. He has managed technical development efforts as well as commercial organizations. His expertise is in the areas of crop protection including seed treatments and coatings, polymers and other seed applied technologies In his current role as Director of Business Development at AgBiome innovations responsibilities include business development efforts and commercialization of products globally.  Between 2016 and 2018 he was focused on developing R&D partnerships for AgBiome’s microbe based technologies for both biologicals and traits. Prior to joining AgBiome, Bala worked at Landec Ag in various capacities eventually leading the organization as VP and General Manager in developing and commercializing polymer seed coatings from 1995-2012 and more recently at INCOTEC Field Crops N.A managing INCOTEC’s North American business for field crops as President and General Manager. Bala completed his Bachelors and Masters degrees from Delhi University in India and has a doctorate in Chemistry from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH

Adriana Botes
Scientific Lead
Azotic Technologies

Co-founder of several SME’s and inventor that worked for more than 20 years in senior R&D roles in biotechnology at the technical and commercial interface. Passionate about contributing to the health and wellbeing of humans and to reduce our impact on the environment. With a diverse background in organic chemistry, microbiology and biochemistry, I focussed on identifying challenges in the industrial and agricultural biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors that can be uniquely addressed by biocatalysts and microbial technologies. I led and integrated multi-disciplinary R&D teams to successfully translate several such opportunities into economically viable platform technologies. I joined Azotic Technologies as R&D Director in August 2018 to translate very promising field trial results obtained with a unique nitrogen-fixing microbial inoculant into a commercial success. Following significant advances in production and formulation, year-on-year increase in sales in the US and consistent performance in the field across multiple geographies and crops, Azotic Technologies is now set to commercialise products based on this technology globally. My current focus is exploiting this unique microbial chassis to address global challenges in agriculture beyond the synthetic nitrogen problem such as the nutritional quality of food, climate resilience of crops and reduction in the use of pesticides.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

1:30 pm | N-Fix®: A plant growth promoting biofertilizer with consistent performance in the field

Diana Londoño
Manager, Global Technical Bio-Insecticides and 3rd Party Technologies
BASF

Diana serves as BASF Global Technical Manager of Bio-insecticides and 3rd Party Technologies. She has 20+ years of experience working with bio-insecticides in academic, governmental and industrial settings in the US and in Latin America. She holds MS and PhD degrees in Entomology with a minor in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a BS in Microbiology from Universidad de Los Andes (Colombia). Diana and her team partner with global BASF laboratories to develop, test, improve and validate biological pesticides to control fungi, insects and nematodes. This includes the development of new foliar biological insecticides and products containing beneficial nematodes to complement conventional insecticide chemicals. In addition to her role as a Global Foliar Biological R&D leader, Diana serves on the board of the Association of Natural Biocontrol Producers (ANBP), is an Industrial Advisor to a multi-state project to control the flathead borer, and is a Center for Arthropod Management Technologies (CAMTech) mentor.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

4:00 pm | Beneficial nematodes: A sustainable alternative to control insect pests

Denise Manker
Global Product Support, Senior Science Fellow
Bayer Crop Science

Denise Manker joined Bayer Crop Science with the acquisition of AgraQuest, Inc. in August, 2012. She is responsible for advising farmers, distributors and technical crop advisors on best use practices involving biologic products in various countries throughout the world. She also manages the Citrus Greening research collaboration between Bayer and the grower-funded Citrus Research and Development Foundation. As one of AgraQuest’s founding scientists in 1995, she served in a number of different roles during the growth of the startup biological pesticide company, including head of R&D, oversight of global field trials involving biologic products, guiding several key crop strategies and managing numerous industrial collaborations. She was recently recognized as Bayer’s expert in biologicals and was appointed as a Senoir R&D Fellow. She is listed as an inventor on 36 issued U.S. patents and numerous foreign patents, and is the recipient of the EPA Presidential Green Chemistry Award for development of Serenade. She holds a Ph.D. from Scripps Institution of Oceanography where her research involved identification of novel natural products from marine invertebrates and investigations into their bioactivity and biosynthetic origin and a B.S. degree in Biology from the University of South Florida.

Sarah Vacek
Global Fungicide Asset Management
Bayer Crop Science

Naturally curious agribusiness leader with strong interpersonal skills engaging and inspiring teams across all levels of the organization to deliver compelling strategies and winning results. Cultivates novel ideas and solutions creating value for industry, customers and businesses. Collaborates with internal and external stakeholders in ambiguous, dynamic and complex environments connecting farmers to innovations that improve nutrition and sustainability.

Day One

Tuesday, February 23

9:00 am | Industry Leaders Panel Discussion

Marcus Meadows-Smith
Chief Executive Officer
BioConsorita

Day One

Tuesday, February 23

9:00 am | Industry Leaders Panel Discussion

Ross Youngs
Chief Executive Officer
Biosortia Pharmaceuticals

Ross has spent over 30 years inventing products, technologies and processes for a variety of industries, and holds over 75 patents worldwide. He is driven to innovate by a focus on what is better, faster and less expensive. Ross’ recent major innovations include an R&D 100 Award for collaboration on biopolymer technologies. In 2009, Biosortia was awarded a $6 million ARPA-E (U.S. Dept. of Energy R&D) grant for its algal harvesting technology, which helped lead to the development of Biosortia’s drug discovery platform. In 1998, Ross was awarded the Ernst & Young Ohio Entrepreneur of the Year award. Additionally, the U.S. Small Business Administration honored him as their national "Business Person of the Year" in a presentation made by Vice Presiden

Jamie Bacher
Chief Executive Officer
Boost Biomes

Dr. Bacher has a history of initiating and leading teams to overcome technical challenges. On behalf of Total New Energies in their partnership with Amyris to generate biofuels, he led an 80 employee, $100 million project as Deputy Program Manager. At Sapphire Energy, he established a technical infrastructure that was critical to Sapphire?s partnership with Monsanto. He similarly led technical efforts at Rincon Pharmaceuticals as the first scientist to focus on whole-cell optimization; efforts which led to a $1MM funding milestone for the company. ?Dr. Bacher has a B.Sc. from McGill University in Biology, and a Ph.D. from University of Texas at Austin in Molecular Biology. He conducted his post-doctoral research at Maxygen, Inc., and The Scripps Research Institute.

James Pearce
Chief Scientific Officer
Boost Biomes

James' career in Ag Biotech was founded with a PhD in Cambridge, UK, where he studied the mode of action of Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) toxins. This led him to a post-doctoral position at Syngenta leading their Bt toxin engineering effort. Syngenta's collaboration with enzyme discovery company Diversa saw him lead animal feed and biofuels projects that combined Industrial and Ag Biotech. James next joined Cibus as Director of Molecular Biology, developing Cibus' gene-editing platform to create crop traits. James then took on the role of running the Monsanto Microbials Discovery team and the San Diego facility, responsible for feeding the biologicals pipeline for the BioAg Alliance with Novozymes. Excited by the potential of the technology at Boost Biomes, James joined the company as CSO. He is responsible for the R&D strategy in the discovery of unique microbial consortia with high value traits. James is thoroughly enjoying the challenges of building an early stage biotech company. 

Terry Stone
Global Regulatory Lead, Biologicals Porftolio
Corteva Agriscience

Terry Stone is the Global Regulatory Leader for Corteva’s portfolio of biological products. Prior to joining Corteva, Terry was Vice President for Regulatory Affairs and Sustainability at Agrinos and held leadership roles with Syngenta, The Scotts Company and Monsanto working in global regulatory affairs, sustainability, industry relations and research and development. He helped establish and chair BPIA’s Biostimulant Innovation Committee and was co-founder of the Biostimulant Industry Workgroup. He has earned Master’s degrees in International Business and Entomology.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

10:00 am | Understanding the Regulatory Considerations to Assist Product Development – Panel Discussion

9:30 am | Evolving Biostimulant Global Regulatory Landscape

Ron Meeusen
Managing Director
Cultivian Sandbox

Ron Meeusen, PhD, is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron has over 30 years of experience in bringing new technologies and products to market. He has led research and development for major corporations in agricultural chemicals, field crop and vegetable genetics and breeding, animal health, novel foods and industrial materials. His successful projects include the world’s first field trial of a genetically engineered crop trait in 1986, development and launch of one of the first insect and herbicide resistant corn hybrids in 1996, introduction of a trans-fat free canola oil, and development of dozens of new varieties of field and vegetable crops on three continents. Ron has been a frequent speaker at conferences, a consultant to federal policy on biotechnology regulatory issues, and an active participant in industry trade groups. Prior to forming Cultivian Ventures, Ron led the expansion of the biotechnology research and development program of Dow AgroSciences, and founded a successful biopharmaceutical company, Immuneworks. Ron represents Cultivian on the board of directors of AbCelex, Agrivida, Asilomar Bio, Allylix (exited), Aratana (exited), Divergence (exited), enEvolv, Proterro, Rivertop Renewables, Vestaron and Virgin Plants. Ron holds a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in plant cell biology, and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in plant physiology.

Lafayette Thompson
President/Owner
Global Agricultural Development Corp

Day One

Tuesday, February 23

9:30 am | Supporting Product Development Using Your Data – Your Most Valuable Asset

Rodrigo Ledesma
Lecturer, Synthetic Biology & Metabolic Engineering
Imperial College London

Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro obtained his PhD degree in Metabolic Engineering at the University of Salamanca (Spain). He has been visiting researcher at AIST (Japan) Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) and INRA (France). He was a postdoc at INRA (France) where he worked engineering yeast strains and developing cutting edge synthetic biology tools. Then, he joined Imperial College London, where he leads a research group working on the creation of synthetic microbial communities for various biotechnological applications (www.rlalab.org). He has published more than 70 scientific articles and co-authored 5 patents.

Kellye Eversole
Executive Director
International Alliance for Phytobiomes Alliance

Kellye Eversole, an expert in genome sequencing technologies and strategies for tackling complex organisms, has led, since 1994, public-private projects to obtain reference genome sequences for agriculturally important crop, livestock, and poultry species. Since 2005, she has led the international, public-private project (www.wheatgenome.org) to obtain a reference sequence of the hexaploid bread wheat genome and since 2016, she has led the International Alliance for Phytobiomes Research (www.phytobiomesalliance.org). Her research interests include developing real-time, in-field microbial and metagenomic sequencing platforms, convergent research combining biological and geophysical science, and artificial intelligence solutions for use in agricultural research, production, and management. She is working with regulatory agencies, industry, and academia to develop a regulatory science roadmap for facilitating the commercialization of microbial products. She has pioneered the development of pre-competitive, multidisciplinary, industry-academic research in agricultural genomics, biotechnology, and information technology.

Ido Dor
Chief Executive Officer
Lavie-Bio

Ido is CEO at Lavie Bio. Previously he served as Executive Vice President & General Manager Ag-Biologicals at Evogene and Executive Vice President & General Manager Crop Enhancement and Director of Business Development. Prior to this, Ido headed the Israeli Small & Mid-Size Enterprise business activity at SAP, the world leading organizational software company. Prior to his role at SAP, Ido led a business unit at Niram Gitan Group, a leading Israeli management-consulting firm. Ido holds an MBA degree and a B.Sc. degree in Industrial Engineering, both from Tel Aviv University

Paul Zorner
Chief Agronomist
Locus Agricultural Solutions

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

12:00 pm | Building a Functional Soil Metagenome to Impact Soil Health, Environmental Benefits & Crop Productivity

Joshua Haslan
Senior Analyst
Lux Research

Joshua Haslun is a Senior Analyst leading the Emerging Ecosystems in Agrifood and Health coverage at Lux Research. In this role he examines emerging and innovative agricultural technologies and business models from sectors including crop and livestock improvement, crop protection and nutrition, the digitization of the agrifood ecosystem, and the impact of the "omics" on this space. While the value chain remains an important aspect of this research, Josh brings ecosystem level analyses that navigate rapidly changing regulatory frameworks, consumer demand, and cross-cutting issues. Prior to joining Lux, Joshua was a Research Associate for the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center at Michigan State University, where he developed methods to apportion nitrogen losses among diverse soil microbial processes, fostering soil microbiome management methods to improve biofuel feedstock production. Joshua obtained a dual-degree Ph.D. in Zoology and Ecology, Evolutionary Biology, and Behavior from Michigan State University.

Amit Vasavada
Chief Executive Officer
Marrone Bio Innovations

Dr. Amit Vasavada is the Sr. Vice President of Research and Development and CTO at Marrone Bio Innovations in Davis, California. He received his doctorate degree in Applied Microbiology from University of California, Davis.  Since his doctoral training, he has been involved in Translational R&D, Process Development and Manufacturing of Bio-based products in Agriculture, Industrial and Pharmaceutical sectors.  Prior to joining Marrone Bio Innovations in 2014, he was involved in discovering and developing microbe-based products for use in human and animal nutrition, probiotics, and food/feed processing enzymes at world class organizations such as Chiron, Monsanto, Life Technologies and Diversa. Currently, he leads Marrone Bio Innovations’ R&D efforts to discover, develop and deliver smart, natural and sustainable biological pesticides and plant health products as part of the integrated pest management programs

Benjamin Reed
Head, Microbial Assay Development
Novozymes

Benjamin has over 10 years of professional experience in biotechnology, bioprocessing, and method development across broad probiotic industries. Benjamin currently oversees the development, validation, and implementation of standard, novel, and rapid microbial methods that are used to evaluate product quality and stabilization for all microbial industries within Novozymes. In addition to his work at Novozymes, he is actively engaged member of the ISO community, especially within automation and novel technology. Benjamin received a Ph.D in Pharmacology with emphasis on metabolic engineering and fermentation for S. cerevisiae from University of Washington in Seattle, WA.

Darin Lickfeldt
Senior Innovation Portfolio Manager
Nutrien Ag Solutions

Day One

Tuesday, February 23

5:10 pm | Leveraging the Thoughts of Growers & Distributors to Better Improve Product Development

Kent Wood
Director, Plant Biology
Pivot Bio

Kent Wood is the Director of Plant Biology at Pivot Bio, an innovative agriculture technology company that identifies and fine-tunes microbes with the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen for use by cereal crops. At Pivot Kent is responsible for testing microbial candidates for efficacy. Much of this work is centered around the evaluation of microbes’ ability to populate the rhizosphere and to transfer nitrogen to the developing plant. Prior to joining Pivot Bio, Kent held the position of scientist at DuPont Pioneer. At DuPont Pioneer Kent first worked to develop plants with increased nitrogen use efficiency. He was later involved in the discovery and validation of microbes with the potential to increase plant productivity, working in a group responsible for trait phenotyping in controlled environments and in the field. Kent received his BS in Genetics from the University of Georgia, and later his PhD in Genetics and Genomics from Duke University. His postdoctoral experience focused on increasing nitrogen uptake and assimilation in plants.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

2:00 pm | Redesigning Biological Nitrogen Fixation in Cereal Crops

Laramy Enders
Assistant Professor
Purdue University

James White
Professor
Rutgers University

James F. White is Professor of Plant Biology at Rutgers University where he and students conduct research on beneficial microbes that inhabit plant tissues and soils. Dr. White obtained the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Botany and Plant Pathology from Auburn University, and the Ph.D. in Botany/Mycology from the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. White is the author of more than 230 articles, and author and editor of reference books on the biology of endophytes, including Biotechnology of Acremonium Endophytes of Grasses (1994), Microbial Endophytes (2000), The Clavicipitalean Fungi (2004), The Fungal Community: Its Organization and Role in the Ecosystem (2005, 2017), Defensive Mutualism in Microbial Symbiosis (2009), and Seed Endophytes: Biology and Biotechnology (2019). Dr. White is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Associate Editor for journals Symbiosis, Fungal Ecology, Mycoscience, and Scientific Reports, and also serves as the Chief Editor for the Plant-Microbe Interactions Section of the MDPI journal Microorganisms. Dr. White received the Alexopoulos Research Prize in 1996 (Mycological Society of America), the Distinguished Research Award in 1994 (Auburn University Montgomery), and the Research Excellence Award in 1998 (Rutgers University).

Andrew Stewart
Counsel
Sidley Austin LLC

ANDREW STEWART counsels clients on a broad range of compliance and enforcement matters. With over 20 years of experience in environmental law, he handles matters arising under all major federal environmental laws as well as state laws, including pesticide matters under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). In his FIFRA practice, he advises clients on requirements applicable to product development, labeling, sale, and distribution, as well as restrictions concerning import and export of pesticide products. In his pesticide counselling work, he was worked with a large number of companies seeking to commercialize innovative agricultural products. He also defends government investigations and enforcement actions related to pesticide requirements, both at the state and federal levels. His work related to pesticide requirements includes assisting clients in the agribusiness, life sciences, and e-commerce sectors. For his practice, Andrew draws on his experience as a senior manager at EPA, where he served as a Division Director in the Office of Civil Enforcement. During his tenure at EPA, Andrew led various complex enforcement matters and litigation affecting numerous industrial sectors, including livestock and crop agricultural operations as well as other businesses subject to pesticide and other environmental schemes.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

10:00 am | Understanding the Regulatory Considerations to Assist Product Development – Panel Discussion

9:00 am | Navigating the Regulatory Landscape to Commercialization

Bruce Luzzi
Director
Field Development

Doug Kremer
Chief Executive Officer
TerraMax

Mr. Kremer has over thirty-nine years’ experience in various agricultural and horticultural businesses. His background in research and development of cutting edge technologies started at the University of Minnesota and includes cell biology, genetic engineering and microbial formulation. In addition to the development of TerraMax’s current microbial products, Mr. Kremer has developed previously patented technology for formulation of microbial technologies. Mr. Kremer has been involved in all aspects of the agricultural technology business world from research scientist to founding a successful business based on microbial inoculants. Mr. Kremer founded TerraMax, Inc 23 years ago to discover, develop and market defined microbial products.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

2:30 pm | Nitrogen Fixation & Biostimulation Utilizing Microorganisms

Asaf Levy
Assistant Professor
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Scott Lowman
Director
Applied Research The Institute for Advanced Learning and Research

Dr. Scott Lowman joined IALR in 2014 and was named Director of Applied Research in 2018. He has most notably championed work in biotechnology and advanced imaging to improve agricultural productivity and sustainability. His team seeks to identify promising natural microbial biostimulant and biocontrol agents (including beneficial plant bacteria, or endophytes) to increase plant growth and health while protecting the environment. Scott’s team also uses the latest technology in unmanned aerial vehicles, multispectral and thermal imaging and robotics to improve plant productivity. In recognition of his work, Scott was named a 2017 Outstanding Recent Graduate Alumnus at Virginia Tech and was presented the Commonwealth Environmental Leadership Award from the Waldorf Foundation. Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in Biology with Honors from Virginia Tech, his master’s in Biology from the College of William and Mary, and his Ph.D. focused on molecular plant microbe interactions from Virginia Tech.

Britt Koskella
Assistant Professor
UC, Berkeley

Ann Hirsch
Professor
UCLA

I am a plant-microbe biologist with a strong background in nitrogen-fixing rhizobia and other plant growth-promoting bacteria (PGPB) , particularly microbes isolated from arid environments. We employ techniques from microbiology, molecular biology, and genomics, as well as other approaches to learn about plant and soil microbiomes. We also isolate potential growth-promoting bacteria and test them on plants, especially crop plants. We have evaluated several strains that are potential plant inoculants, and that have the potential to restore soil health. Some of these, e.g., Dietzia cinnamea strain 55 have only been recently recognized as PGPB.

Jonathan Conway
Postdoctoral Researcher (Dangl Lab)
University of North-Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jonathan Conway earned his Ph.D. in chemical engineering in the lab of Dr. Robert Kelly at North Carolina State University researching lignocellulosic biomass degradation by the genus Caldicellulosiruptor. He has been a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Dr. Jeffery Dangl since 2017 investigating plant-microbe interactions in the Arabidopsis root microbiome.

Jean-Michel Ané
Professor
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Jean-Michel Ané is a Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison in the departments of Bacteriology and Agronomy. His primary research interest is understanding the molecular mechanisms allowing efficient symbiotic associations between plants and microbes and applying this knowledge to maximize the benefits of such associations in agriculture.  His specific goals are to (1) understand the genetic and molecular mechanisms allowing the establishment of mycorrhizal and nitrogen-fixing associations across land plants, (2) study the evolution of these mechanisms in order to identify critical innovations that enabled the development of these associations, and (3) use this knowledge to engineer more efficient associations between crops and microbes in order to improve the sustainability of our agriculture for food, feed, and biofuel production.

Maria Herrero
Director, Global Regulatory Affairs
Valent BioSciences

Lead regulatory strategist, in charge of developing negotiations and managing submissions. Implement the understanding of key issues within major regulatory authorities, their foundation, regulatory schemes and submission processes. Monitor a continuously evolving regulatory arena. Regular interaction with domestic (EPA), Canadian (PMRA) and international agencies and actual dossier compilation.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

10:00 am | Understanding the Regulatory Considerations to Assist Product Development – Panel Discussion

Randy Martin
Global Technical Development Specialist
Valent BioSciences

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

11:30 am | The Living Soil: How Microbes Contribute to Soil Health

Robert Kennedy
Chief Scientific Officer
Vestaron

Bob has led Vestaron’s R&D activities since 2009. Bob also sits on the IRAC mode of action committee. He has over 25 years of research management experience and has held management positions at Parke-Davis and Pfizer with academic appointments at Columbia University, University of Michigan and Western Michigan Medical School. Bob holds a PhD in organic chemistry from Virginia Tech, followed by an NIH Postdoctoral fellowship at MIT.

Day Two

Wednesday, February 24

3:30 pm | At the Tip of the SPEAR® - Peptides Transforming Crop Protection