My View: Innovation in Food Productivity Will Be the Key to Feeding the World as Soon as 2050; UC Davis Could Be Leading the Way on Such Efforts

By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

Davis, CA – In February Councilmember Dan Carson made the comment that “this innovation center could help save our planet.”

He explained, “Our UC Davis colleagues are now managing $968 million in research. Every year. They’re leading in ag tech and sustainability. They’re going to lead to new basic research, but they’re also going to get us to products and things that will help address climate change and prevent it, but also things that if climate change is going to happen, help us adjust and cope with it.”

Some of the Vanguard commenters had a field day with the comment.

I was reminded of the comment earlier this week when someone noted “in light of the coming world food shortages that we’re all being warned about should we really be taking farmland permanently out of circulation?”

While it would seem that in light of potential food shortages saving as much agricultural land will be a key to the future, the reality is that—with projected population growth along with an intensification of climate change—the key to the future is going to be more food production and really more caloric capacity on existing land.

A 2019 study by the World Resources Institute, an environmental group, found an extremely daunting challenge.  In short, the population was expected to grow from just over 7 billion at the time of the study to around 10 billion by 2050.

Based on current trends, the study found that the world would need to produce 56 percent more calories in 2050 than it did in 2010.

This a 56-percent food gap.

Worse yet, as the world grows in affluence, “Consumption of milk and meat—foods that rely heavily on pasture for their production—is likely to grow by 68 percent. These rates of growth exceed those that prevailed from 1962 to 2010.”

There is a myth that is frequently cited, saying “the world already has an overabundance of food and could meet future needs without producing more food.”  The study found this to be based “on an unrealistic, even if desirable, hypothetical.”  Namely, “it presumes that the world not only consumes fewer animal products per person, as this report encourages, but by 2050 eliminates nearly all meat consumption; that people shift from meat to vegetables and legumes and consume the same high-yield crops now used for animal feed; that all food loss and waste is eliminated; and that food is distributed just enough and no more than to meet nutritional needs of every person in the world.”

The study notes, “One strategy to close the food gap could be to clear more land for agriculture—but at the cost of great harm to forests and other ecosystems and the people who depend on them, and large releases of stored carbon from vegetation and soils. Today, croplands and pasture occupy roughly half of all vegetated land.”

They note, “Our target is to hold agricultural land area—cropland and pastureland—to the area used in 2010.”

That doesn’t sound that realistic either, without greatly increasing the density of existing cities.

The study notes, “The land gap is thus the difference between the projected area of land needed to meet global food demand in 2050 and the amount of land in agricultural use in 2010.”

They explain, “The size of the land gap depends on how quickly crop and livestock yields can be improved. If the world were to experience no gains in crop and pasture yields and no moderation in demand for food (what we call our ‘no productivity gains after 2010’ scenario), agricultural land would expand by 3.3 billion hectares, virtually eliminating the world’s forests and savannas.”

The key to feeding the world is going to be developing the technology to improve productivity.

And who could lead the way on such technology?  How about UC Davis?

A couple of articles illustrate the potential.

From January, UC Davis Magazine ran a story, “Cultivated Bacon: Is Cultivated Meat a Viable Prospect to Feed the World?”

The prospect here is not exactly appetizing to this vegetarian, but they are looking into the possibility of “actual flesh grown under lab conditions instead of being harvested from an animal or fish.”

They note, “Some see this ‘cultivated meat’ as promising lower environmental impacts or a way to enjoy meat without the need to slaughter and process animals. In any case, it’s set off an investment boom in recent years as startups vie for the technology that could win an entire new food sector.”

“The societal need is to provide dietary protein for a growing population,” said David Block, professor and chair of the UC Davis Department of Viticulture and Enology and professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering. “If the current food system can’t expand, we have to come up with alternatives.”

And in fact, UC Davis reports that Professor Block leads a UC Davis team that was awarded a National Science Foundation grant in September 2020 to study cultivated meat.

“The grant grew out of the UC Davis Cultivated Meat Consortium, established in 2019 under the Biotechnology Program. With support from two nonprofits, the Good Food Institute and New Harvest, the consortium aims to meet needs of the new industry for research and growing interest from graduate students.”

Meanwhile, a more traditional research endeavor is the $15 million UC Davis-led research into climate change-resistant wheat.

A release from UC Davis in February notes, “Wheat products account for roughly 20% of what people eat every day around the globe. As climate changes, wheat crops must adapt to new weather patterns to keep up with demand.”

The University of California, Davis, is leading a five-year, $15 million research project to accelerate wheat breeding to meet those new climate realities, as well as to train a new generation of plant breeders.

“Everything is less stable,” said Jorge Dubcovsky, a plant sciences distinguished professor who is leading the grant research. “Everything is changing so you need to be fast. You need to be able to adapt fast.”

“Breeding crops for the future will require new traits, breeding platforms built for quick transfer of traits to elite cultivars, coordination of breeding efforts in public and private domains, and training for current and future plant breeders and researchers,” NIFA said in an announcement about this grant and others related to breeding.

Once again the opportunity exists to take research and put it to market—and that research is happening at UC Davis and that market is likely to be happening in the Sacramento Region, perhaps even in Davis itself.

The key to the future is thus going to be the ability to create more productive food production methods that can close that 56-percent food gap.

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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54 Comments

  1. Ron Oertel

    Davis, CA – In February Councilmember Dan Carson made the comment that “this innovation center could help save our planet.”

    Using this logic, the “innovation center” planned for Woodland (after failing in Davis, and adding 1,600 homes during its move up Highway 113) could “help save our planet”. (Sometime, I’ll have calculate how many “houses per mile” resulted from that.)

    So could the one that was originally planned on campus, before Dan and his neighbors sued UC Davis regarding its plans. (If he and others hadn’t done so, might our planet have been “saved” by now?)

  2. Ron Glick

    Well duh David. I’ve been writing about this for years on here. Katahi talked about this years ago when she initiated the World Food Center.

    Way before that I was reading about UC Davis ag innovations in high school before you were born. Without UCD there probably wouldn’t be a local walnut industry. I learned that in the 1970’s.

    Just in the time that you have been doing the Vanguard, UCD has made major contributions to rust resistance in wheat, leading to more certain crop yields in parts of Africa and Asia.

    More recently, the work of Doug Cooks lab, partially funded by Mars, has made breakthrough advances in Chickpea genetics, an important food in India.

    Why do you think so many international students want to be here? My wife’s father came here on an Fulbright Scholarship decades ago.

    Yet the great irony is that your beloved Measure J hasn’t protected farmland it has only changed the farmland developed from land used for commodity production to land used for ag research like the fields where West Village is located. So once again your argument, while valid, is undermined by your own political choices.

     

    1. Ron Oertel

      There is no connection between UCD and DiSC, some 4-5 miles away.

      But let’s not pretend that everything UCD does is planet-saving, in the first place.  I believe this (first) article is pretty old article, but still:

      “The future of a major research deal between UC Davis and the Monsanto corporation brings the role of the university into bold relief. How far can a university go in collaborating with private industry before its mission of contributing to basic knowledge becomes distorted? How will we know when it’s gone too far?
      UC Davis faculty currently receive nearly $10 million in research contracts from the private sector- more than a few of them, according to UCD officials, with Monsanto. Even the most ardent opponents of large scale pact with Monsanto do not oppose contracts between individual professors and companies.
      What then to make of a potential agreement between UCD and Monsanto, which could include the location of a Monsanto research facility on or near the campus as well as a broad range of research agreements with faculty? The benefits to UC Davis are obvious: a continuous flow of money; access to Monsanto’s proprietary information and cutting-edge technologies; university patents whose licensing fees can fatten UCD’s wallet. For some, the question is how a university can afford not to have an arrangement with a company like Monsanto.

       

      https://nature.berkeley.edu/srr/Alliance/novartis/davis.htm

      And then there’s things like this:

       

      UC Davis Sued for Failing to Release Public Records on GMOs and Pesticides

       

      https://usrtk.org/news-releases/uc-davis-sued-for-failing-to-release-public-records-on-gmos-and-pesticides/

       

      1. Alan Miller

        Personally, I’d love to see UCD move away from Monsanto and other giants and pesticides and GMOs and lions and tigers and bears, and almonds — into how to feed a world off small organic farms and rid the world of pesticides.  But that’s just me.

        First step of course is to drastically reduce world population.  This would also reduce pollutants that are implicated in the increase in world temperature.  I tried to do this by engineering Covid-19 and releasing it upon the world.  Unfortunately, Operating Warp Speed got ahead of the intended death toll and the reduction in world population was much less than intended.

        1. Ron Oertel

          Or, they could do this (from the Vanguard article, above):

          The prospect here is not exactly appetizing to this vegetarian, but they are looking into the possibility of “actual flesh grown under lab conditions instead of being harvested from an animal or fish.”

          Yummy.

          Why do I keep thinking of Soylent Green, regarding stuff like this?

          If I can afford it (when the time comes), I might be getting on the first rocket ship to Mars with Elon Musk.

        2. Alan Miller

          I might be getting on the first rocket ship to Mars with Elon Musk.

          Well, as RG pointed out:

          Doug Cooks lab, partially funded by Mars, has made breakthrough advances in Chickpea genetics,

          So you might have plenty of Frankenchickpeas and Mars Bars to eat when you get to Mars.

      2. Ron Glick

        You act like this goes on in a vacuum. Its may not be as nefarious as you portray. It may be for security purposes.

        You seem to forget, before the takeover by Bayer, there were some regular Anti-Monsanto protestors who would frequent Davis. As a result I can see why UCD would want to keep these relationships out of public view.

        Over the years there have been acts of vandalism and threats made against both people and property. It wasn’t that long ago that a building under construction at the Primate Center was destroyed by Arson.

        I have a friend who bought a house from a UCD researcher who worked at the Primate Center. The house had a state of the art security system the researcher had installed because of threats made against him.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I have a friend who bought a house from a UCD researcher who worked at the Primate Center. The house had a state of the art security system the researcher had installed because of threats made against him.

          Are you sure you want to discuss the UCD Primate Center?  🙂

        2. David Takemoto-Weerts

          The Thurman Veterinary Diagnostic Lab arson took place in 1987. YMMV as to how “long ago” you consider that. That was my first year employed at UCD as the campus bicycle coordinator (4 years later the position moved to TAPS). The FBI set up camp in the police station for 2 weeks while investigating the crime. While they didn’t solve it at the time, they did bring donuts in for the entire PD staff every day! Your tax dollars at work!

        3. Ron Oertel

          So, here’s some of the “planet saving” that they’re allegedly doing at UCD’s Primate Center.

          A doctors’ group has filed a complaint against UC Davis with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, alleging that an Elon Musk-funded primate research program was a violation of the Animal Welfare Act.

          The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine alleges in its complaint that the UC Davis California National Primate Research Center — which received more than $1.4 million from Musk’s company Neuralink to conduct experiments — failed to provide dying monkeys with sufficient veterinary care, used an unapproved substance called “Bioglue” that destroyed portions of monkeys’ brains, and failed to provide for the psychological well-being of the monkeys in the experiment, according to a statement released by the group.

          https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/article258387783.html

  3. Alan Miller

    “My View: Innovation in Food Productivity Will Be the Key to Feeding the World as Soon as 2050; UC Davis *Could* Be Leading the Way on Such Efforts”

     

     

    Councilmember Dan Carson made the comment that “this innovation center *could* help save our planet.”

    See folks, these statements aren’t “verifiably false” and “misleading” (I’d add ‘outrageously superlative’), from the Yessies as long as you use the word ‘could’.  Of course, I *could* be wrong 😐

  4. Alan Miller

    Some of the Vanguard commenters had a field day with the comment.

    Just to be clear:  the field day wasn’t about what UCD was doing, it is that building a business park in far-eastern Davis is going to make a lick of difference in global world temperatures, or that there is any but the slightest thread of a possibility that UC Davis having those technologies blossom in that particular business park would a) happen or b) make a difference in global temperatures.

    1. Richard_McCann

      Alan M

      The entire processed tomato industry has been singularly influenced by UCD. That story is iconic about how a single university can drive both the plant breeding and harvesting equipment sectors. There are many other examples. UCD is considered among the two most influential agricultural research universities in the world. Don’t underestimate its influence.

      1. Ron Oertel

        I always figured that UCD’s involvement in the tomato industry is the reason that you see tomatoes “bounce”, after they fall off of overloaded tomato-hauling trucks.

        They ain’t our grandmother’s heirloom tomatoes.

        Have they invented square ones, yet? (They’d pack better.)

          1. Don Shor

            There are no genetically modified tomatoes on the market or used in ag. FlavSavr was the only one and it was a commercial failure. As of last year, there is a genetically modified tomato available in Japan, but not yet anywhere else.

        1. Ron Oertel

          I’ve noticed that as well, including the type apparently grown in water (without soil).

          The entire effort seems to be the result of an avoidance to address population growth, in an effort to cram more people on the planet (while simultaneously attempting to reduce their impact, at the expense of quality of life). As well as at the expense of other life.

          Sort of like what they do in Folsom, in regard to the new development. (Forcing the existing city to conserve water.)

          In other words, a mitigation for what governments don’t want to address. As such, it’s difficult for me to be fully on-board with it.

  5. Don Shor

    Any innovation center in Davis or Woodland or Vacaville that provides space for move-up businesses will help UC Davis get products to the market which will improve yield or reduce yield losses. Dan Carson’s statements are correct overall with respect to the importance of ag research. “Save our planet” may be a hyperbolic slogan regarding adapting to and mitigating climate change, but changes in ag practices and continued increases in yield are pretty essential parts of climate action as well as alleviating world hunger.

    A big part of that is the research that is already going on all around us in crop improvements, newer pesticides, and more efficient management of the resources that go into farming.

    The biggest increases in yield of the main crops in the United States have come from

    ·      Use of synthetic nitrogen sources

    ·      Better weed management

    ·      More targeted control products for insects, mites, and diseases

    ·      Improvements in traditional crop breeding

    ·      Improvements via biotechnology for yield and pest management

    All of those are areas of research at UCD. Technology to mitigate the side-effects of ag practices can help sustain yields that have already been achieved.

    Example: yield of citrus increases in almost direct correlation with the application of synthetic nitrogen. But the common practices were applying forms of nitrogen that polluted groundwater. A technological mitigation is to devise other sources and methods of application that would sustain the yields by means of timing or alternative methods of delivery. Now many citrus growers spray their trees in late winter with low-biuret urea, reducing the nitrogen input while sustaining the farmer’s yield. Developing the right form of urea and the materials added to the spray solution would be a typical spin-off from that type of research.

    Research for climate impacts on agriculture are going to be key to keeping yields sustained under periods of drought, flooding, loss of chilling hours in winter, and extreme heat.

    There’s lots of work on timing of irrigation to maximize efficiency without yield loss. Pollination issues from extreme heat are likeliest to be met with new varieties as well as changed cropping practices. Some products have come to market that will address these issues.

    Cultivated meat may sound unappetizing but it is a big area of research right now, attracting attention from investors as well as wealthy potential investors such as Bill Gates. Sometimes all it takes is an investor of his sort to start a stampede toward a particular product or technology. It probably helps that he is now a huge owner of farmland.

    1. Ron Oertel

      Cultivated meat may sound unappetizing but it is a big area of research right now, attracting attention from investors as well as wealthy potential investors such as Bill Gates. Sometimes all it takes is an investor of his sort to start a stampede toward a particular product or technology.

      A “cultivated meat stampede”. 

      Have you contacted Gary Larson? I’m thinking this might make a great Far Side cartoon. 🙂

      It probably helps that he is now a huge owner of farmland.

      It’s probably more concerning, than “helpful”.

       

  6. Todd Edelman

    save our planet

    Reminds me that Carson argued for culling tree habitat at Sutter Davis saying that health care workers were “heroes” during the pandemic, as if any proponents for keeping the trees wouldn’t agree or didn’t say the same.

    These heroes include firefighters, or perhaps he argued for the new ladder truck while also opposing emergency vehicle and bus access to West Village via Russell that requires vehicles from the station in West Davis to travel to West Village to 113.

    But anyway, let’s let him continue with his hyperbole and spin.

    Related: Dan Ramos is on the Board of Yolo Food Bank. It’s an excellent way to keep people associated with the Food Bank from at least publicly criticizing DISC.

    1. Ron Glick

      Attacking Dan Ramos for helping feed the poor in Yolo County makes me more likely to vote yes on H. I would ask what any of the opponents of Measure H have done lately to help the poor in this county? Not everything people do has a nefarious alternative reason. Maybe he supports the Food Bank because he wants to help the Food Bank help people who are food insecure.

      What does replacing shade trees at Sutter with photovoltaic panels have to do with anything? Also I believe access to West Village from Russell for emergency services has always been allowed.

       

       

      1. Alan Miller

        Attacking Dan Ramos for helping feed the poor in Yolo County makes me more likely to vote yes on H.

        No one is ‘attacking’ anyone, nor does someone being on a board of a non-profit mean that they are doing it for charitable purposes, nor nefarious purposes.  Non-profits are often used for connections and cover and appearance.  I’m not accusing, I’m saying it is important to look at all the interconnections and draw your own conclusions, for any situation.  And do not ever be so naive as to think that the title and stated purpose of a non-profit is actually what the entire purpose of that entity is.

        makes me more likely to vote yes on H.

        Is that a ‘threat’ ?

      2. Alan Miller

        I believe access to West Village from Russell for emergency services has always been allowed.

        Of course it is.  Right over the Arthur South roundabout with a firetruck!

      3. Ron Glick

        No threat Alan. I’m still undecided but the stupidity of some of the arguments tends to push me away towards the opposing side. From my perspective its going to come down to traffic versus economic development. Everything else seems ridiculous.

        But getting back to food security, as Don would prefer, I wonder if people commenting here have any understanding how much hunger there is right here in Yolo County. The Yolo Food Bank has done tremendous work over many years to help address the needs of the poorest among us. The people who work, volunteer, serve on the board or donate money there should stand tall knowing that they are helping in the noble pursuit of offering food to the hungry. In a county with so much abundance making sure that the poor are not hungry should be venerated and not attacked because of some petty local political campaign.

        1. Matt Williams

          From my perspective its going to come down to traffic versus economic development. Everything else seems ridiculous.

          I fundamentally agree with you Ron.  The traffic on Mace (and the feeder streets) is real, and is:

          (1) Constrained by the meter lights on the I-80 ramps, which are controlled by CalTrans

          (2) Understated by the difference between the 2020 EIR traffic volume of nearly 24,000 projected trips per day vs. the 2022 EIR traffic volume of 12,000 projected trips per day … a result of gaming the CEQA system.

          The economic development impact is magical wishes arriving by unicorn, with:

          (A) No Economic Development Plan prepared by the City to show the voters how DiSC fits into the City’s overall plan.  — One has to ask why the City hasn’t made any effort to put together a professional Economic Development Plan and share that plan with the city’s residents and businesses? By being unwilling to take that simple planning step, the City (both Council and staff leadership) appear to be saying that such a plan has no value. Being unwilling to commit the effort to have and share a plan seems to say that they don’t believe in the end result.

          (B) Luke warm endorsement by the local innovation technology engine, UCD

          (C) No identified (or identifiable) tenants, and

          (D) Some of the economic benefits rely on leveraging our local economy for sales tax revenue, but our local economy has no plan and no direction … and no leadership. And as such DiSC is a “cry in the wilderness” that will make the developers rich and do nothing for the typical Davis resident.

          P.S. beyond traffic and economic development there are other issues … the DiSC pledge of “donating $2M to the new Montgomery library and community center” is more of the same fiscally obtuse thinking. The pledge only comes due when the County and City come up with the remaining $6 million needed to cover construction costs. And even more important is that there is no money available to cover the personnel staffing costs of the center even if it is built.

        2. Bill Marshall

          The Yolo Food Bank has done tremendous work over many years to help address the needs of the poorest among us.

          Amen!  Along with STEAC and Sacramento food bank, those are organizations that we have put our time and $$$ towards!

          Not philosophical, but action…

           

      4. tkeller

        Not everything people do has a nefarious alternative reason. Maybe he supports the Food Bank because he wants to help the Food Bank help people who are food insecure.

         

        Thank you Ron.

        there is way too much crazy “conspiracy theory” kind of logic in this comment section…   ( but it’s worse on nextdoor)

        I get attacked all the time for supporting DiSC, with allegations that I must be a developer shill…  one of the davis opposition actually tried to smear my non-profit in front of the city council because I had dared to push back against those allegations….

        Maybe its just becasue I see companies leaving davis ALL THE TIME because they cant find room here… maybe I just have personal exposure to the pain that DiSC could alleviate….

        People never think that way first… they think its better to “follow the money” and accept whatever conspiracies they can think of “must be true” because they think it makes financial sense…

        1. Ron Oertel

          I get attacked all the time for supporting DiSC, with allegations that I must be a developer shill…

          Yeah, you called me a liar in this article, so I know how it feels.

          Maybe its just becasue I see companies leaving davis ALL THE TIME because they cant find room here… maybe I just have personal exposure to the pain that DiSC could alleviate….

          Sorry to hear about that “pain”.

          What kind of rent are they paying in their new locations?  And, how would that compare to DiSC?

      1. Bill Marshall

        And yet, continues… so I’ll add,

        (C) No identified (or identifiable) tenants, and

        So, whose issue is that?  The proponent, taking the risk, or should we have a vote on tenants?

        Fair question… if the proponent has no tenants, their risk, their loss… project won’t happen…

        Or, do you, and apparently others, want/insist on vetting tenants/subsequent owners… seems like a fair question, as to how much “control” some seem to want to exercise about others… ‘goes against my grain’…

        No tenants, no impacts… duh… no skin off my nose… I find that opponents seem to throw out (or ‘up’) “It’ll not work!” If so, why fear/oppose it?

        1. Bill Marshall

          Oh, I guess the ‘fear of the unknown’, fear of ‘what if’s’, are good reasons to oppose pretty much anything in life… I know folk like that… they want guarantees that their ‘world’ will be perfect, and no-one will benefit more than they do, with any change…

        2. Ron Oertel

          Fair question… if the proponent has no tenants, their risk, their loss… project won’t happen…

          Do they actually need to have commercial tenants, to build the residential component?

          Or, is it simply a requirement to build a given amount of commercial “space”, for each residential unit built?

        3. Matt Williams

          So, whose issue is that?  The proponent, taking the risk, or should we have a vote on tenants?

          I will take that question as purposefully hyperbolic, but will answer it none the less …  No, no vote on tenants considered or even imagined.  I simply want to see some sliver of reality in this project.  All I see at this point is wishful thinking.

          Fair question… if the proponent has no tenants, their risk, their loss… project won’t happen…

          Agreed, it will be their loss … financially, but it will be the community’s loss as well.  We will be stuck with urban blight supplanting productive farmland.  The parcel will be criss-crossed with meandering roadways instead of rows of crops.

          Or, do you, and apparently others, want/insist on vetting tenants/subsequent owners

          Again, I will take that question as purposefully hyperbolic, but will answer it none the less …  No, no vetting of tenants considered or even imagined.  I simply want to see some sliver of reality in this project.  All I see at this point is wishful thinking.

          how much “control” some seem to want to exercise about others

          No control desired.  Simply looking for disclosure.

          No tenants, no impacts… duh… no skin off my nose

          I will take that as your endorsement of the merits of urban blight.  Thank you for that disclosure.

  7. Bill Marshall

    Do they actually need to have commercial tenants, to build the residential component?
    Or, is it simply a requirement to build a given amount of commercial “space”, for each residential unit built?

    Trite… typ.

    Read the docs… think about the infrastructure needed, and the cost of that… any accountant would know, “that ain’t a happening thing”, considering lender requirements… but please feel free to dismiss a thought of an engineer, who only took a couple of classes in economics…

    As always, you are wiser, more informed…

    1. Ron Oertel

      Trite… typ.

      Thanks.

      Read the docs… think about the infrastructure needed, and the cost of that… any accountant would know, “that ain’t a happening thing”, considering lender requirements… but please feel free to dismiss a thought of an engineer, who only took a couple of classes in economics…

      I guess we’d have to see the docs.

      But having commercial tenants, vs. commercial space requirements (to meet requirements to build the housing units) are two different things.  Infrastructure would be created to accommodate the housing, regardless.

      I’m just looking at how this (and every other) “innovation center” has morphed from a commercial development to a semi-residential one.  And the fact that the city is apparently “requiring” some amount of commercial space to be built, in order to gain approval for the housing.

      Actually, I believe this is also true of the Woodland development.  The one that essentially failed in Davis, without even “trying” to gain approval. And moved what was left of that proposal to Woodland, while adding 1,600 housing units.

      What this tells me (repeatedly) is that these developers don’t actually want to build the commercial space.  They do want to build residential.

      For that matter, I don’t see what’s preventing the developer from pursuing just about any commercial tenant, to help cover the cost (for what they really want to build – residential). A “loss leader”, if you will.

    2. Ron Oertel

      And since it is painfully-obvious that they don’t really want to build the commercial component (compared to residential), this also tells me that there isn’t sufficient market demand to finance a commercial development.

      It also tells me that developers will “creatively” look for ways to build a housing development.

      And getting back to the main topic of this article, they’re certainly not going to limit their search for commercial tenants to those who will “save the world”.

      As I recall, there was a company that left Davis (much to David’s despair), which (as it turned out) makes equipment that’s connected to undersea oil activities. Not exactly what I’d call earth-saving technology.

  8. Ron Glick

    “I will take that question as purposefully hyperbolic, but will answer it none the less …  No, no vote on tenants considered or even imagined.  I simply want to see some sliver of reality in this project.  All I see at this point is wishful thinking.”

    This has been explained over and over yet you still cling to this fantasy that somehow there should be a tenant signed before the election. This is never going to happen because no commitments can be made before approval. No financing can be secured before the vote is approved.

    The No campaigns insistence on something that is obviously not going to happen seems so disingenuous to me that its just one more thing that is pushing me towards yes.

    My concern is about traffic. Nonsense about things that can’t happen and you should know can’t happen simply pushes me away.

    1. Matt Williams

      Not signed Ron.  I have never asked for a commitment.  Simply an expression of interest.  To his credit Tim Keller has clearly stated that kind of expression.  If he can do it, why can’t others?

      You express your interest in things on a regular basis … and in the process set an excellent example.

      Further, Shilling Robotics expressed an interest in the past … until the MRIC/ARC/DISC team dragged its heels.

      And it is worth noting that the political realities of Measure J have been explained over and over yet you still cling to this fantasy that somehow Measure J will go away.

      1. Ron Glick

        No I don’t. I am resolved that Measure J will be here until at least 2030. My interest is in calling out its folly and challenging its supporters as a reality check.

  9. tkeller

    Its interesting to me that the responses to this article range from “Duh of course” to – “This is all hyperbole / fluff / unicorns”   The full spectrum from of tacit acceptance to willful disbelief.

    Since I happen to have a little bit of insight to lend here, let me detail for the readers some of the ACTUAL agricultural innovations that are happening just within my own tiny little business incubator – a non-profit that ( full disclosure ) would LOVE to expand into DiSC because we immediately filled the space we moved into last year, and are currently turning companies like these away…

    Here is a sampling of current and past inventopia network companies in the AgTech Space:  ( NOT a complete list because some of the companies I know of are still in stealth mode)

    Innerplant: Using faintly-glowing plants as sensors for detecting environmental stresses in crops
    Sensit:  A chip-based chromatograph that can detect a variety of things including developing food-storage contamination.
    LandScan: Soil probes and site characterization company for understanding ag fields and informing agricultural decision-making – including water use.
    Balletic Foods: Developing ways to make high-value muscle proteins in yeast cells
    Optimized foods:  Developing a number of food products using a novel process I cant tell you about
    Peak B:  Creating an organically derived blue food coloring ( the existing chemical blue food coloring is problematic )
    Ravata:  Tools for embryologists ranging from mouse to human IVF… (but I include them in the ag category as well becasue cattle breeding and genetics is also one of their verticals)
    FloraPulse:  Sensors that plug into trees and vines to measure realtime water demand to make irrigation decisions better.

    Again, this is an incomplete list.  There are also a number of companies that are in davis in the agricultural space that have nothing to do with me…  BioConsortia, Sensei Ag, Advanced Farm  etc…

    The companies that I host are VERY real, but also very young.   Which brings me to the last inventopia company that I will talk about which is California Cultured.

    California Cultured is doing cell-cultured chocolate, just in the same way that people are lab-growing meat… they are doing it with chocolate.  Why?  Because “normal” chocolate production in west Africa involves rampant deforestation and the employment of child & slave labor.

    California cultured is headed up  CEO named Alan Perlstein, for whom this is his second food startup here in Davis.  They raised $4 million in venture financing (for just their first round) and guess. what… they will be moving OUT of davis to west sacramento in the next few months.    They are already too big for inventopia, but since we don’t have DiSC yet, and because there are ZERO adequate alternatives here in Davis for this company – they have simply go where they can find the space.

    Now I know Alan, and I know his team.    The vast majority of them all live HERE in Davis.

    So because the City of Davis does not have adequate facilities, not only are we going to have the economic activity that CA Cultured creates go to west sacramento, but the employees he has who are almost all davis residents will end up getting into cars, driving across the causeway, and working in a neighboring city…

    I am doing what I can to help Davis companies stay in Davis, but I cant do everything.   We simply need R&D space and we need it yesterday.   Its NOT okay if these companies instead go to woodland or west sac – Davis is losing valueable economic activity and is forcing its residents onto the freeways to work out of town.

    My hope is that when CA Cultured outgrows the spot they are moving to in west sacramento, that by that time DiSC will start to have some build-out and we can lure them back.   But the citizens / voters of this town need to get on-board with this economic reality if that is going to happen

    1. Ron Oertel

      they will be moving OUT of davis to west sacramento in the next few months.    They are already too big for inventopia, but since we don’t have DiSC yet,

      Is that right?

      How much rent will they be paying in West Sacramento, compared to what they’d pay at DiSC?

      but the employees he has who are almost all davis residents will end up getting into cars, driving across the causeway, and working in a neighboring city…

      How many employees are you referring to, here?  And if the company grows in West Sacramento (or even in Davis), how many of the NEW employees would live in Davis, compared to a cheaper locale?

      Have you ever thought about moving YOUR company to West Sacramento?  Seems like it would save a step.

       

       

      1. tkeller

        Have you ever thought about moving YOUR company to West Sacramento?  Seems like it would save a step.

         

        Its what AgStart did didnt they…

        Again.. the point of this entire DISC proposition is to keep valuable companies in Davis so that the economic activity happens IN davis… that is the ENTIRE POINT.     You might not care if company X sets up shop in Davis or woodland..  Then you are simultaneously saying that you don’t care about the economic health of the city…      Its fine to have that opinion, but I bet you might understand if I heartily disagree!

        So from a number of perspectives, keeping these companies in town is the better choice.  Better from an economic perspective for Davis, better from traffic and a tailpipe emissions perspective…

        And since you asked… the company is currently 16 people.  They will grow once they find more space… but I asked the CEO just a few minutes ago to confirm… he and about 3/4 of his team all live in Davis.

        So that is the real “choice” we are making here – if we really do care about vehicle miles, GHG emissions and our economy, then developing DiSC is the right call.   The alternative (by definition) sends these same companies elsewhere.

        1. Ron Oertel

          And since you asked… the company is currently 16 people.  They will grow once they find more space… but I asked the CEO just a few minutes ago to confirm… he and about 3/4 of his team all live in Davis.

          Homeowners, are they?  Or, renters who’d be glad to move out?

          So that is the real “choice” we are making here – if we really do care about vehicle miles, GHG emissions and our economy, then developing DiSC is the right call.   The alternative (by definition) sends these same companies elsewhere.

          By far, new workers at DiSC (assuming it’s successful) are going to be commuting to the site.

          The EIR itself notes that Davis and surrounding communities are expected to absorb the 1,269 additional demand for housing units that DiSC won’t provide.  (Again, assuming it’s commercially-successful.)

          Not to worry, though – the “other half” of DiSC would likely be a housing development, along with Shriner’s, Palomino Place, the space inside of Mace curve, etc.

          I come at this with an entirely different point of view than you do.  My priority is to ensure that development stays within the Mace curve. And (as bad as it is on its own) this thing is just the beginning of a breach.

          Your priority is to support your current (and hoped-for) future landlord. (The same guy.)

          By the way, are they still promising to provide natural gas for the labs, there? Despite claiming that all energy will be renewable? (I recall that this was a concern for you, with MRIC/ARC/DISC.)

           

        2. Ron Oertel

          Its what AgStart did didnt they…

          Actually, I believe they moved to Sacramento first, then Woodland.

          They’re apparently even more heavily-subsidized than your company.

          Not sure if one of the Vanguard’s former board members is still involved with it.

          But at this point, I wish all of you would move to Austin, and take the Vanguard (and Dan Carson) with you. They’d love you, there. A “win-win”, as it were.

          Why are folks so determined to screw up Davis, and make it like every other valley city? My conclusion is that it has nothing at all to do with concerns regarding “city finances”.

      2. tkeller

        By the way, are they still promising to provide natural gas for the labs, there? Despite claiming that all energy will be renewable? (I recall that this was a concern for you, with MRIC/ARC/DISC.)

        Yes, that IS a concern of mine.    Albeit not a big one.   Backup generators for laboratories tend to be natural gas.   There are also a lot of industrial processes especially around renewable energy and materials that work much better with natural gas.

        That said,  if it doesnt make sense to pipe in natural gas because all the heating is expected to be electrical… then i guess people can figure out alternatives.. maybe propane tanks…. we will figure it out.

        1. Ron Oertel

          maybe propane tanks

          As I recall, this doesn’t align with the proponents’ ballot statement.

          And I would think it would be a lot more costly for you and other “labs”.

          Aren’t you discussing this with your current (and hoped-for future) landlord, before advocating on his behalf?

        2. tkeller

          Why are folks so determined to screw up Davis, and make it like every other valley city? My conclusion is that it has nothing at all to do with concerns regarding “city finances”.

          I would ask that of YOU Ron.   You seem hell bent to sabotage our ability to have an economy beyond just playing bedroom to UCD…  AND it seems that you have zero desire to even allow Davis to keep up with the growth of our university – which is the entire reason the city exists in the first place.

        3. Ron Oertel

          It’s made it this far, without an “innovation center” outside of city limits.

          But getting back to the natural gas issue, why are you advocating for this development if you don’t even know that this will be provided/available?

          Given that it’s available just about everywhere else.

          There are also a lot of industrial processes especially around renewable energy and materials that work much better with natural gas.

  10. tkeller

    David… if you want me to turn this comment into its own article… id be happy to expand and refine it… just let me know.  I think that maybe “making the issue real” might be helpful to people considering this debate….

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