Being sustainable in times of crisis? Is that realistic or not? At the opening session of the 25th Alltech International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium in Lexington, KY, USA, Alltech founder Dr Pearse Lyons said that these 'crisis times' are the perfect time to innovate, invest and focus on sustainability.
With 1,100 attendees of the symposium (around 500 less than last year) its obvious that the crisis is also felt here. Just like every other company, Alltech had to make cost saving decisions, and made the symposium a little bit less busy this year.
Also the biorefinery plant has been put on hold (only parts such as the Solid State Fermentation unit and the algae production area are running). Mark Lyons, project manager of the biorefinery said the banking sector is looking differently (more hesitant) to the ethanol industry right now, which reflected in the withdrawal of the $40 million grant.
Nevertheless, the atmosphere at the symposium – like other years – is extremely positive, vibrant and encouraging. As Pearse Lyons mentioned in the opening session on Monday, May 18, he said that these times are not to wait and stand still. Even when costs are an issue, we have to invest in the future and primarily in sustainable options for feed and food supplies.
Lyons pointed out four solutions that need to be kept in mind while working on the sustainability issue: Focus on new resources, focus on education, innovate and overcome cultural changes. The treats that we face today together with these solutions will be the focus of this year’s symposium. Lyons emphasised the need for strong leaders within companies that can motivate staff, come up with good ideas and be able to work trough the crisis with minimum damage.
Medal of Excellence
Like every year, Alltech awards a scientist that made a difference to the industry in terms of groundbreaking research or political influence. This year’s recipient of the Bioscience Medal of Excellence is David Byrne, former EU commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection. In the photograph at the bottom he receives the award from Dr Karl Dawson (left) and Dr Pearse Lyons (right).
At a time of crisis during the mad cow debacle in the 90s, Byrne played a central role in demonstrating leadership as he restored consumer confidence into the food chain for 400 million people. Byrne was honored with the medal as he said that this medal was a true “recognition of the good implementation of feed and food safety rules”. He was grateful and said “I probably did something right during my time with the European Commission.”
The four ingredients that are the most costly in the animal diet are: corn, soy, fat and vitamin E. On the first day of the symposium, Alltech launched a new product: Economase.
This product is a mix of vitamin E, Sel-Plex and other antioxidants that can reduce the costs of vitamin E supplementation with 80%. This is because the special blend makes more vitamin E available on cell lever, which means that less vitamin E has to be supplemented via the feed.