S2E45: Synthetic biology & the holy grail of ag—w/ Mike Miille, CEO of Joyn Bio

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Much of agriculture depends upon synthetic fertilizer. But the production of that fertilizer is responsible for 3% of greenhouse gas emissions. That’s why innovators in the emerging field of synthetic biology are attempting to disrupt the status quo in agriculture and engineer new ways for growers to achieve the same yields with less fertilizer—and less environmental impact.

Mike Miille is the CEO of Joyn Bio, a biotech company that is using synthetic biology to try to make agriculture more sustainable. On this episode of Reversing Climate Change, Mike joins Ross and Rebekah to explain how his team is engineering microbes to address unmet needs in agriculture and what differentiates synthetic biology from classical breeding or GMOs.

Mike introduces us to Joyn Bio’s work in designing nitrogen-fixing corn (the potential holy grail), responding to the argument that our system of monoculture isn’t worth saving and the concerns around scaling innovations in synthetic biology. Listen in to understand how Mike thinks about the unknowns of designing new organisms and learn about the other potentially game-changing advancements in ag that Mike’s team is working on right now.

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Leaps by Bayer

Ginkgo Bioworks

Thomas Knight at MIT

Carl Sagan’s Cosmos

The Haber-Bosch Process

Norman Borlaug

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