Jason Drew is an entrepreneur and environmentalist who argues that the industrial revolution is over and the sustainability revolution has begun.
CEO of the world’s largest farm and environmental capitalist, Jason Drew, shares his thoughts on the future of insect protein, the current state of the sustainability revolution and provides his outlook for the future of the environment. Jason uses his entrepreneurial mindset to find solutions to some of our most pressing issues. His company AgriProtein uses protein from insects, fed on organic waste to replace fishmeal in aquaculture and chicken farms. The company is set to become the first insect business to be valued at over one billion dollars. Jason argues that the industrial revolution is over and the sustainability revolution has begun
What industries do you think have shown the most development and progress towards creating a more sustainable future?
Humanity needs water food and energy. The energy industry has achieved remarkable things in terms of renewable power generating. The internal combustion engine is a relic of the industrial revolution and should be banned to speed up our switch to electric motors. Once we have conquered grid level – renewable energy storage we are set for a positive energy future.
You began your career within the corporate world, what first sparked your interest in food sustainability?
Since leaving the corporate world I have started and then listed or sold a number of industrial revolution companies. Living on my farm near Cape Town I then got very interested in the environment and the question ‘How on earth can we feed 9 billion people’. The answer is by cutting down waste and then recycling the food waste and organic waste we do have back into our agricultural systems. I now only run or invest in businesses that repair the future – particularly in reducing food insecurity.
How equipped or unequipped do you think we are in order to handle the increasing population of our developing countries?
Africa alone will add one billion people by 2050 – adding twice the population of Europe in the next thirty years. If we do not manage the water-food-energy nexus we will see mass migration on an unimaginable scale driven by economic, climate and food security issues.
Your business AgriProtein produces products for agriculture, aquaculture and animal feed from insects. How much will our diets rely on them in the future?
Insects were eaten by our ancestors and have always been an important part of the food chain. Cricket flour and insect protein bars are taking off in the US. In fact, one third of the world already eats insects as part of their daily diet mostly in the developing world. Insects are a valuable resource and I don’t think it’s widely understood how valuable they are. The current mass extinction of insect species concerns me even more than the plight of the rhino as it will have consequences for food production and bio-diversity that we barely comprehend.
Do you think our world leaders are addressing and investing enough into a sustainable future?
Our world leaders mostly have a five-year horizon – their next election date. Long term solutions do not get many votes as yet. I think it is companies that have a longer-term view and are doing more to create a sustainable future than Governments. Our elected leaders need to catch up and start legislating for a positive future rather than trying to fix a broken past.
You have mentioned that we’ve entered a sustainability revolution, how has this revolution affected industries and what should our businesses be doing?
There is no industry that is not being re-invented. The extract-manufacture-throwaway (EMT) model on which most businesses of the industrial revolution were built is evaporating – and with it the businesses built on that model. New businesses are driven by the pillars of durability, shareability, upgradeablility recyclability and closed loop business models. Businesses that will survive this change have understood that they are subservient to the environment and not the other way around.
What is the environmental outlook for the future?
It is human nature to be optimistic – otherwise the daily challenges and risks we face in leading our lives would weigh us down to inaction. Do we have time to address the environmental challenges we face? – I argue that we don’t have the time to not start trying.
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