Today it is practically impossible to open up any weekend newspaper and not encounter some piece of information relating to the role of microbes in our world. Sometimes we read about how microbes are linked to obesity and a multitude of other human related indications, or how microbes are responsible for a surprising proportion of the natural gas we use to heat our homes, or how microbes are responsible for plant health and vitality , or how microbes and their evolutionary changes in response to a gross over use of antibiotics could be spurring a new breed of “Super bugs.” Our awareness of microbes and microbial communities, both from a basic societal standpoint and deep technical scientific standpoint, is exploding.
At the same time, our world is growing, and growing fast. It is widely estimated that almost 10 billion people will need to be fed by 2050 causing a huge need for new technology to both provide that increased supply of food and to do so in safe, responsible, and environmentally conscientious ways. The inherent irony in our ‘feed the world’ challenge rests in the modern agricultural systems structure which is made up of two broad categories of “foodstuffs”: crops and livestock. Crops are grown to feed humans directly and indirectly. We all know how crops are directly used (just order a salad and you will see!) but what is less obvious is how crops are indirectly used to feed mankind, namely, to feed and grow livestock (e.g. chickens, cows, pigs, and fish) which in turn we consume in various ways. Crops are more heavily relied upon to feed livestock than humans: it is estimated that 47% of soy and 60% of corn grown in the US each year go toward creating animal protein. Additionally, there are a host of other products that make their way into the livestock diet to improve the overall efficiency of their growth and production. Akin to the reliance in crop agriculture on chemistry based treatments (e.g. fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides), livestock agriculture has also leaned heavily on chemistry based treatments – daily feed additives such as antibiotics, ionophores, and various other natural and synthetic compounds are all common staples in any modern livestock feed regime. And rightly so, because if we are to continue feeding mankind reliably and economically these and other technologies are needed to enhance the efficiency of producing livestock.
Our mission at Ascus Biosciences is to help increase both the quality and quantity of livestock based food worldwide through the use of microbes. Our products, ensembles of different microbes assembled using our proprietary technology platform, aim to do a few things simultaneously: improve the output a livestock farmer can achieve, reduce the quantity of crop based inputs needed to produce that same level of output, and very importantly, create that value add to the producer in a safe, environmentally conscientious, and sustainable manner. Our products have multiple mechanisms of action – they help the animals to be more efficient with the feed they are consuming (e.g. by improving the digestability of the fibers and starches being consumed by the animal), provide additional biochemical compounds and tilt the fermentation processes taking place in the GI tract of these animals towards more favorable production related outcomes and help balance the naturally occurring microbial communities in ways that can improve the safety of rearing these livestock species. Ultimately, in doing these three things, the outcome for our world is not only an improved efficiency of the overall agricultural production system, but also, to naturally and sustainably increase the quality and quantity of livestock based food worldwide using Mother Nature’s microbes.
As we look at the challenge we face as a company in both delivering the highest performing and relevant microbes for livestock producers’ ultimate economic outcomes and delivering products that are safe, reliable, and consistent, we are both extremely excited and overwhelmed by the responsibility that we face as stewards of our technology. At the forefront of our minds is the awareness that our products and methods contribute to society through creating value to livestock producers by making their operations more efficient and valuable. But behind this also rest our company’s desire to do good things. Helping to increase the amount of food available to us today, and our kids tomorrow, by helping those that make our food system tick, is ultimately the biggest motivation we could ask for.
CEO / Ascus Biosciences, Inc.
San Diego, California
July 7, 2016
 Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (2006), “Below-cost feed crops: An indirect subsidy for industrial animal factories.”