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17: Genome edited food - an answer for healthier diet and climate change? CFO - Lynsey Wenger

Updated: Mar 26, 2023

Lynsey Wenger is Chief Financial Officer of Pairwise, overseeing financial strategy, planning, and management. With the mission to build a healthier world through fruits and vegetables, Pairwise leverages the benefits of genome editing in improving the natural diversity of plants.

Lynsey obtained a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University in Public Policy and later received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to joining Pairwise, she spent 16 years at Goldman Sachs specialising in global natural resources investment banking. Later, Lynsey served as the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Sustainability Officer at Calysta.

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About Pairwise:
  • Their vision: Use technology in combination with other tried-and-true practices to make healthy eating more convenient and appealing, helping to improve health outcomes for both people and planet

  • Pairwise uses genome editing – developed through CRISPR licenses from Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard – and proprietary new technical developments to address food and agricultural system needs

  • Founded in 2018, the company employs over 150 people, across We are now 3 locations in the U.S and have since raised US$115mm

(Source: Pairwise)

The food system has a great impact on environment

(Source: Pairwise)

How to build a better Plant with genetic modification:

(Source: Jen Christiansen)

In this episode we are addressing the following questions:

  • Can you please introduce yourself and explain your journey which led you to Pairwise as a CFO? 1:44

  • Is there something from your prior experience which you think is a critical skill to deploy now in this food tech company? 4:01

  • Can you give the audience a quick overview of what Pairwise is doing? 7:19

  • Can you explain for non-scientists what exactly CRISPR is and what the applications are? 12:38

  • How do you do change DNA in gene editing? 15:36

  • What are the other appliances for CRISPR? 18:43

  • Where do we stand now with genetically modified food? Did perceptions change and did the technology change? 22:45

  • So this would be the first product which is going to launch this year? Do you have any products lined in future? 26:27

  • What is the ultimate end-game? 27:39

  • We talked a lot about the health side, what about environment? Are they better for the environment? 29:12

  • Coming back to the scaling factors - what are the scaling factors you need to focus on to get this technology to scale? 33:16

  • What do you see as the two biggest challenges in the next 2-3 years? 38:19

  • What makes you confident that we will solve the climate crisis? 42:22

  • How can people contact you if they want to know more about Pairwise and you? 45:06

Lynsey's quote of choice:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” - Theodore Roosevelt

Her book mentions:

Two books that shaped Lynsey's understanding of the sector:

1. The Dreamt Land (Mark Arax)

2. Growing a Revolution (David Montgomery)

Three more "life" oriented books

1. Meditations (Marcus Aurelius)

2. Think Again (Adam Grant)

3. The Road to Character (David Brooks).

Memorable quotes from the episode by Lynsey:

“For pairwise, the top priority for us and something that we truly value is transparency.”

“Deploy it [gene editing technology & tried and true practices] into food an agriculture to help achieve our mission which is to build a healthier world through fruits and vegetables.”

“We can use our gene editing technology, because we understand the pathway that creates that flavour profile. We can remove the piece of the genetic material in those plants that cause the flavour. So what you get are a romaine like eating experience with kale-like nutrition.”

“Only 10% of folks in the US eat the recommended daily allowance of their fruits and vegetables.”

“If we can help people help themselves to eat healthier, that is mission accomplished.”



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