Moolec Science is Genetically Engineering Animal-Plant Hybrids
As our research team uncovers the frontiers of genetic engineering, we often think, “You just can’t make this stuff up!” Today, we have an alert for you about the exploitation of plants to create animal proteins. It’s one more reason to carefully track the inputs used to make your ingredients and products—and to stay informed! All products of new genetic engineering techniques are defined as GMOs by the Project’s Standard.
Moolec Science (Moolec), a food technology company, has announced that it’s expanding its portfolio to include the development of egg and dairy proteins in plants, specifically in wheat and oats, respectively.
Based in Warwick, England, Moolec is one of a new breed of companies operating in the relatively unknown arena referred to as “Molecular Farming,” with the goal of developing protein-dense plants and “reducing the world’s reliance on animals.”
Using plants as mini bioreactors
Molecular Farming expands the horizons of what is known in the marketplace as synthetic biology (synbio), the genetic engineering of microorganisms to exploit their natural function in order to produce a desired result, such as proteins or flavorings. Molecular Farming is similar in that it involves the genetic engineering of plants to exploit what they do naturally and thus turn them into mini bioreactors.
In the case of Moolec, this involves inserting genetic material from animals into plants and then using the plants as “surrogates” to produce various animal proteins. This approach has been used for a number of years in the pharmaceutical industry but has only recently been poised to impact the food system.
Insert cow genes, make dairy proteins in oats
Launched in 2020, Moolec is a spinoff of the agricultural biotechnology firm Bioceres SA, which is based in Argentina. The first product of its Molecular Farming technique was patented in 2015 and involved the insertion of bovine genes in safflower to produce chymosin proteins for cheesemaking.
Going forward, Moolec plans to partner with food producers to provide them with animal-plant hybrid protein ingredients. Other proteins in the early development stage involve the insertion of porcine genetic material into soybeans and peas. These proteins could then be used to create hybrid meat analogs, capitalizing on the expansive growth of the use of soy and pea isolates in plant-based products. The company anticipates having these products ready for commercial release in 2025.
The Non-GMO Project’s Standard defines all crops and products developed using biotechnology, including new gene-editing techniques, as GMOs. We share this information to further one of the Project’s primary goals of creating greater transparency in the supply chain, ensuring you have the information you need to make the best choices for you, your brand, and your family.
Please note that the information herein is for general informational purposes only and is based on the linked sources above.