An 8-year-old start-up located in the heart of suburban Minneapolis has high hopes of making a major breakthrough in the genetic crop engineering business with its new cutting-edge technology that allows plant DNA editing. Never turning over a profit, this tiny lab is co-founded by a genetics professor who has created methods of altering soybean plant genes in order to produce healthier oils.
Last spring, seventy-eight farmers gathered under the sun to plant these special soybean seeds across 17,000 acres of farmland in South Dakota and Minnesota. The plants are expected to become the first gene-edited crops to sell commercially, beating out Fortune 500 companies. Genetically engineered crops are not only a cool technology but a way of drastically lowering development costs, and luckily, the US Department of Agriculture has not regulated them.
Ceo of Calyxt, Federico Tripodi mentioned, “It’s a very exciting time for such a young company. The fact a company so small and nimble can accomplish these things has picked up interest in the industry.” So, how does it work? The technology allows modifiers to eliminate certain undesired characteristics of an organism by targeting and disrupting the genes associated with them. Simultaneously, alterations can be made to create positive changes and produce a better quality crop.
The traditional gene modification method has been around for a while, but not gained full consumer acceptance, as the process involves transferring genes from one kind of organism to another. In contrast, Calyxt’s technology simply edits and plays with genes within the organism in order to attain full crop potential.
This could mean bigger harvests of fruits and vegetables with a wide array of desirable traits such as low-gluten wheat, tastier tomatoes, apples that don’t brown, and drought-resistant soybeans and potatoes suited for cold storage.
Calyxt is predicted to be the start of a significant crop revolution that will forever change the face of the market.