Gene edited soybean failing due to slow adoption by farmers, low crop yields
Published: June 9, 2021
Category: GMO News
The first gene edited crop to be commercialized in the United States has been a flop. Biotechnology company Calyxt touted the launch of its gene edited soybean, which aims to produce high oleic soybean oil, in 2019. But a December 2020 report by the investment magazine Seeking Alpha says “the company disappointed investors with delayed product launches and slow growth,” contradicting its business model that claims “a speedy development cycle using novel gene-editing technologies.”
There also has been slow adoption by farmers, which has been “hindered by lower crop yields, an issue seen in other genetically engineered soybean seeds,” according to the report.
Oil produced from the GMO soybean aims to not produce unhealthy trans fats when cooked at high temperatures.
Calyxt’s gene edited soybean was touted in articles in Wired, Reuters, and The Scientist, among others, and farmers started growing the gene edited crop in 2019. The same year, Calyxt also started selling high oleic oil from their soybeans, even claiming that the oil was “non-GMO.”
But the Calyxt business model of selling seeds to farmers and then processing the high oleic oil to sell to food service companies and crushing plants hasn’t been profitable.
“Gross margins remain negative as the company exits its crop commerce business and focus on grain seed sales and licensing,” according to the report. Calyxt will now focus “solely on seed production and tech licensing.”
Calyxt’s gene edited soybean is a good example of a genetically engineered crop failing to live up to the hype surrounding it. For the past 25 years, proponents of GMO crops have claimed that they would help to “feed the world,” produce more nutritious foods, increase food security, and other claims. But they have failed to deliver on the promises, and there remain two predominant GMO traits, herbicide tolerance and insect resistance.
Sources: GM Watch, Seeking Alpha
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Organic & Non-GMO Insights June 2021