Cutting-edge research in genomics will unlock the vast potential of an organism’s genetic code to unleash inconceivable strides for mankind and agriculture.

“This wave of technology is coming whether you’re ready or not,” said Juan Enriquez, a world-leading genetic code authority and user.

Enriquez is the managing director of Excel Venture Management. The Boston, Mass.-based organization builds companies to apply advances in life sciences into the health care, energy, chemical, defense, and agricultural fields.

The future of mankind and agriculture is strongly tied to unlocking the genome. The genome is an organism’s entire hereditary information (code) recorded in DNA or RNA.

Scientists continue to unlock specific organism genomes, including the human genome, to understand how organisms work and how to manipulate genes, for example, to re-grow human organs.

Enriquez spoke to produce industry members during the 86th Western Growers annual meeting in San Diego, Calif., in November. Western Growers is an agricultural trade association based in Irvine, Calif., whose members grow, pack, and ship about half of the nation’s produce.

Enriquez’s PowerPoint presentation included a slide with several genetically-modified cows in South America which produce life-saving medicine. Another photo showed a large building where the same medicine is developed.

“Every time you clone this animal it produces the same medicine to treat cancer patients,” Enriquez said. “Twenty of these animals can substitute for this (cancer medicine) factory.”

Each human cell contains about 3.2 billion letters of gene code called genes. Each cell contains an entire genetic copy of a person. For example, a one-letter (code) change could change a person into an exact clone of a neighbor. Astonishingly, the genetic difference between a human and a mouse is only about 5 percent.

Code is written using the numbers 0 and 1 in a long string which makes the 26-letter alphabet obsolete in every language.

Enriquez made three connecting points — all wealth comes from code, code keeps changing, and code is evolving from digital code to life code.

Humans are the only species that codes and consistently teaches the next generation, Enriquez says. Code has become portable — available for example through crop reports, taxes, and comic books. Code is spread over far distances which increase wealth and knowledge.

The digital revolution has spurred code advancements. In 1956, IBM unveiled its 305 RAMAC, the first commercial computer with magnetic disk storage, priced at $1 million. The room-sized computer stored 5 megabits of information; the size of a single average digital photo today. This year, Intel released a computer chip which processes 1 trillion operations per second.

Code advancements will make it possible to fit all music ever composed in a single computer within the next three years.