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New GMO Alert: Molecular Farming Is Growing!

Molecular farming, or the genetic engineering of plants to exploit them for use as factories to create novel proteins and […]

New GMO Alert: Molecular Farming Is Growing!

Molecular farming, or the genetic engineering of plants to exploit them for use as factories to create novel proteins and […]

Molecular farming, or the genetic engineering of plants to exploit them for use as factories to create novel proteins and compounds, is continuing to expand! According to Research and Markets, the global molecular farming segment is expected to grow from $454.1 million in 2023 to $916.3 million in 2028, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 15.1%. Although a significant portion of this amount is related to the creation of recombinant proteins for medicine, we continue to encounter new developers who are using molecular farming to produce inputs for the food and body care sectors.

We first introduced you to molecular farming in September 2022 and then provided an update in October 2023 as existing companies reached milestones and new developers pursued molecular farming as an alternative way to produce proteins, especially animal proteins, via genetic engineering. 

In fact, as you might recall, there were so many developers working in this space that a year ago, in April 2023, the FDA issued a general warning to all developers reminding them of the potential allergenicity issues associated with inserting animal DNA into plants and that developers need to be aware of the “relevant legal requirements” for these products and manage them and their risks accordingly, which includes processing and labeling.

Thus, although it has been a mere 6 months since our last New GMO Alert on this topic, we’re revisiting molecular farming to make you aware of some new developments and developers.

Moolec Science

On April 19, Moolec Science (Moolec), a subsidiary of Bioceres, announced that it had gained USDA “approval” for its soy that has been genetically modified through the insertion of pig DNA and branded as Piggy Sooy. Officially, USDA/APHIS determined that the crop did not represent a plant pest risk and thus would not be regulated. This constitutes the first USDA review and approval of a plant that has been genetically modified to incorporate animal DNA. 

Moolec reports that it is currently in consultation with the FDA, although Piggy Sooy’s FDA status has yet to be announced. The company hopes to begin conducting outdoor field trials in Wisconsin next year. Moolec’s goal is to focus on the B2B market, specifically targeting plant-based meat analog developers.

Orf Genetics

Located in Iceland, Orf Genetics (Orf) is using molecular farming to produce recombinant proteins in barley. The company initially focused on the development of human growth factors for medical use before creating EGF (i.e., epidermal growth factor), a “protein that stimulates the production of elastin and collagen,” which it uses in its Bioeffect skincare products.

Orf later expanded to develop animal growth factors for the emerging cell-cultured meat sector. The developer currently has three products listed on its website: Isokine and Dermokine, which are both identified as human growth factors; and Mesokine, which is a portfolio of porcine, bovine, and avian growth factor products.

In February of this year, Orf collaborated with the Australian cell-cultured meat developer Vow to hold a meat-tasting event in Europe. The event featured a variety of dishes created using Japanese quail cells cultivated by Vow, with Orf providing the animal growth factors for the development of those cells.

Finally Foods 

A new Israeli molecular farming developer Finally Foods emerged from stealth mode in early April of this year. The company’s goal is to develop casein by genetically modifying potatoes with animal DNA, although it has been reluctant to reveal the part of the potato plant in which the dairy protein is expressed. 

Finally Foods was founded in collaboration with Evogene, an Israeli “computational biology” company and has licensed the latter’s GeneRator AI platform. The developer received pre-seed funding from The Kitchen Hub, which is part of the Strauss Group, and the Israeli Innovation Authority. Once the casein has been extracted from the crop, the remaining portions of the plant will be used for animal feed.

Elo Life Systems 

Another new North Carolina molecular farming developer, Elo Life Systems (Elo Life), is a spinout from Precision BioSciences. In February, the biotechnology company announced that it had raised an additional $20.5 million, which it will use to develop a market for its products created via molecular farming. Elo Life’s first product is a sweetener based on monk fruit, which it hopes to launch in 2026. The company did not reveal what crop it was using to generate the monk fruit sweetness proteins.

Core Biogenesis

Located in France, Core Biogenesis (Core) is using molecular farming to create recombinant human and animal proteins in camelina. Although the company’s primary target is the medical sector, cellular agriculture is also a focus. Existing products include a range of human and bovine growth factors, with more in development. Some are marketed under the Core Factors brand. In 2022, the company completed a $10.5 million Series A funding round, with the funds earmarked to build an industrial-scale production facility. 

BioBetter

The Israeli developer BioBetter announced the opening of its first pilot facility for the production of animal growth factors for the cell-cultured meat industry. The company’s crop of choice for the production of these growth factors is tobacco.The pilot plant can process 100 kg of tobacco-derived growth factors per day. 

PoLoPo

PoLoPo, also located in Israel, revealed its proprietary molecular farming platform, the SuperAA platform, which the company has used to produce egg proteins in potatoes. PoLoPo claims that its egg proteins are vegan while also stating that they are not “suitable for people with egg allergies.” 

Alpine Bio/Nobell Foods

In April, Alpine Bio, which is located in California, announced that it had secured a new patent for its molecular farming of recombinant milk proteins (i.e., casein). The proteins are being produced in soybean plants through the insertion of cow DNA. Alpine Bio was founded as Alpine Roads, then rebranded as Nobell Foods, then rebranded again as Alpine Bio, maintaining Nobell Foods as the casein brand.

NewMoo (formerly Imagene Foods)

Israeli developer Imagene Foods has recently emerged from stealth mode, rebranding as NewMoo. The company is using molecular farming to produce casein, but the plant is unspecified.

Miruku

Miruku recently announced that it had closed a pre-Series A $8 million funding round. The company plans to work first with farmers in Australia before expanding to the US and Canada


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.

The Non-GMO Project is a 510c3 nonprofit dedicated to protecting and promoting non-GMO alternatives. New GMO Alerts is supported by funding from readers like you. Donate today

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