Merllori institute: for a more sustainable homeland
Merllori Institute is dedicated to improving the efficacy of sustainable, eco-friendly food
and biomass product production. Transitioning agriculture products and practices from
laboratories and small plots to mid-size industrial production under real world market
conditions is a particular focus.
Seventy years elapsed between Merllori Institute’s genesis and its
realization. The idea began in 1938 when two undergraduates met at
The system of nature, of
Bethany College. Despite their dissimilar majors – mathematics and
psychology – they shared a vision based upon an appreciation of
Washington Carver. Both were influenced by Rachael Carson’s
“Romance Under the Waters” radio broadcasts and her early articles
Not so with technology.”
in Atlantic Monthly
and The Baltimore Sun
E. F. Schumacher
They married after graduation to find their plans interrupted by World War II. He served as Executive Officer of an LST in the Mediterranean; she, as Assistant Director of the American Girl Scouts. After the War, they purchased 160 acres in eastern Ohio to pursue a vision.
It was a time of change. America was becoming the World’s breadbasket. Farm productivity was growing exponentially.
Fuel oil and gasoline were cheap. Tractors replaced horses. Rural electrification deposed wind and water power. John Deere, DeKalb, and DuPont introduced improved machinery, seeds, and sprays each year. New science rapidly increased yields and simplified farming. Economic success no longer required mastering a smorgasbord of local conditions, humus, and complex soil food webs.
There were also unintended longer term consequences. Vast swaths of farmland were converted into sterile Petri dishes dependent upon regular doses of artificial nutrients and synthetic pesticides. America’s rich diversity of crops was converted to monoculture agriculture. Practical folk knowledge acquired over generations was lost as the era’s informal ‘intranets’ – granges and cooperatives – were displaced by modern industrial practices. Links between consumers and farmers were severed as food processing and additives extended logistics chains and shelf lives. The stage was being set for today’s explosion of diabetes and immune disorders.
Farm bureaus, government agencies, and universities promulgated streams of research and advice during the 40’s and 50’s. Some proved practical: some did not. Anaerobic innovations reliably disposed of industrial quantities of certain toxic wastes. However, two thousand black walnut seed seedlings recommended by agriculture field agents failed to grow and multifora rose, planted as natural fences, grew too well.
Some improvements, effective in the short term, subsequently proved to be a step backward. Oil yields increased in genetically modified soybeans: but, at the cost of decreased nitrogen-fixation which reduced crop rotation efficacy.
Natural gardening practices such as composting, earthworm culture, rotation, selective breeding, and organic ‘pesticides’ were tailored for larger scale horticulture. Byproducts of the work included crop combination discoveries that increased plant vigor and yield – and reduced economic uncertainty by supporting multi-product revenue streams. Silent Spring
provided the impetus to fully ban inorganic products in 1963.
Close reading of the soil food web hinted at meffects,’ as defined in pre-DNA days, were obvious, though their causes were not. So were some
The early founders financed projects by teaching science and other subjects at rural high schools. Product sales provided additional funding. More than 200,000 hours were contributed as a result of projects undertaken by scouting and other civic organizations.
Merllori Institute was capitalized and incorporated as a non-profit corporation in July, 2008.
Additional capital and transfer of ownership of the real and intellectual property is dependent
upon IRS approval of the corporation’s 1023 application for 501(c)(3) status. The corporation
has been granted exclusive use of the property while the application is pending.
Filling Critical Gaps
Merllori Institute addresses several related issues that private enterprise and current public policy
tend to approach in a disjointed, piecemeal fashion. By adapting laboratory agriculture products
and integrating them with best practices for the practical world of family farming, Merllori
harnesses entrepreneurial potential in thousands of farm families to help solve interrelated
problems of energy dependence, terrorism, economic development, transfer of American wealth
to foreign countries, climate change, and public health.
Ten years ago few scientists believed single cell animindividual community members sacrificed their lives for the communal good. Today, it is not only known they do – but, also, how they do it.
Based upon more than a half century of working intimately with biological processes, Merllori believes the root causes of numerous challenges facing America may similarly be more interconnected than is generally perceived.
Two Wations between issues rarely seen as linked. While Merllori leaves the policy debate to T. Boone Pickens and others, it does search for ways to produce more home grown bio-fuel in sustainable and environmentally beneficial ways. Success will arguably have benefits beyond helping solve the energy crises.
Residents of Omaha, Nebraska can now shop at America’s leading natural food supermarket chain for ‘organic’ California Grown vegetables shipped-in directly from China. The phenomenon’s implications are examined in a forumcosponsored by Merllori Institute and 270Tech. Parallels are also drawn between penicillin and
better food production through chemistry. Penicillin facilitated sloppy hospital housekeeping. Synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and additives facilitated sloppy farming and food processing. In both instances, short term gains are indisputable. Today, however, twice as many U.S. citizens die froments. And, while increases in diabetes, autism, and immune disorders cannot be laid entirely at the door of sloppy farming and processing – the Gulf of Mexico’s 8,000 square mile dead zone can.
One mists, is a cost transfer that is held to be unfair or inappropriate. Cities that dump untreated sewage into rivers, for example, transfer cost to those downstream. Similarly, some of the ‘cost’ of using fertilizer in the Midwest is shifted to fishermen downstream (the Gulf’s dead zone is a ‘cost’ of fertilizer runoff). Although op intergenerational free-rider economic theory and present-value estimates, the concept is the same. What we ingest affects our grandchildren and their children. While individuals receive a short term benefit from pesticides and additives in the form of lower direct cost (cheaper food), society incurs unallocated costs in the form of higher health care premiums – as do future generations.
The point is… ‘natural’ farming on a commercial scale creates more value than merely better tasting, premium food. Reliance on foreign oil, America’s $1.6 trillion healthcare economic burden, and environmental damage are potentially reduced. Merllori Institue is dedicated to helping make eco-friendly agriculture practical for America’s family farms.
Research vs. Commercialization
USA expenditures for agricultural R&D have held steady at approximately $10 billion per year
since 2000. Although Silicon Valley more likely comes to mind than rural farmland when
uch agriculture IP is equally disruptive.
Miracle seeds and fertilizers revolutionized living standards worldwide. A project by Plant Bio-Fuels and USDA to boost certain crop yields is another example of disruptive agriculture IP. The maximum potential of the project is 400 million barrels of oil per year – equal to approximately 10% of USA oil imports – from land already in soybean production.
Indicators – probes the consequences of whether, how, and by whom intellectual property (“IP”) produced by this and other R&D is commcommercialization’s three X’s of value creation give an edge to entrepreneurial adopters of disruptive technology. The papers posit two key points.
Excess Raw Material
Tech Transfer’s raw material, Intellectual Property, is largely the
product of R&D activity. According to the National Science Board (“NSB”), some $6 trillion
was spent on R&D from 1993 to 2003. Past output from the activity includes an inventory of
underutilized IP that dwarfs available commercialization resources. Simply put, more IP is
looking for a home than potential adopters can absorb.
Small is Beautiful
The ‘disruptive segment’ of the overall ‘R&D/IP Market’ is more suited
to commercialization by small companies and entrepreneurs – by family farms, in the case of
agriculture IP – than by large-cap enterprises.
Merllori Institute helps family farms put the backlog of intellectual property to productive use.
Public Service Resources The Institute cosponsors mission related projects and makes its expertise and resources available to qualifying research, educational, and other public service organizations.
Project & Commercialization Experience
Merllori Institute directors understand evolving family farm practices and culture. Agriculture ctions, raisings, granges, and co-operatives have been integral parts of their lives. They bring more than fifty years of hands-on experience raising, processing, and marketing farm products, including approximately 125 different crops and 30 types of animals.
One director is a certified Wisconsin cheese maker. Another is an RN who has set-up preventive medicine corporate programs and served as VP, Human Resources for an international manufacturer. Managemeing a perspective of best practices used by the wider industry, including: food wholesalers, manufacturers, and retailers. Members of the Institute’s Advisory Board have been principals in more than 100 bio-tech, energy, and other technology transfer projects.
Educational qualifications of the Directors and Advisors include advanced degrees in Bio-Tech, Materials Science,
Operations Research, Business, and Languages.
– organic since 1963 • 55 acres wooded
Methods and outcome records spanning seventy years of
Real property includes land, buildings, and equipment to
support a range of agriculture operations.
Board of Advisors
The Institute’s Advisory Board brings perspective and
access to food and bio-fuel market expertise.
– 2500 gallon cistern & back-up well
The Institute’s Alliance Partners include Teton Sands,
Plant Bio-Fuels, Syber Group, 270 Tech and approximately
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