California Puts Monsanto’s Glyphosate/Roundup on Cancer List
Monsanto’s herbicide Glyphosate, sold under the retail name Roundup, is officially part of California’s Prop 65 list of chemicals with carcinogenic properties despite Monsanto’s vehement objections. A judge recently ruled against Monsanto in a lawsuit challenging California’s decision to list the chemical based on a study from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Read more here.
Hampton Creek is Moving into Cultured Meat
The Wall Street Journal reported this week that eggless mayo startup Hampton Creek – which has been a mainstay in the headlines recently—is getting into the animal-free meat business and looking for a way to add cellular ag to its product offering, which has until now focused on plant-based alternatives. Surprisingly the startup says it can get the meat products onto shelves sometime next year, compared to peers in the space that say they’re at least four years away from a commercial product. Read more about the challenges for cellular ag scalability here.
Hain Celestial Acquires Better Bean
Under today's unique circumstances, AgFunder is re-opening Fund III for a limited time to enable investors to join our mission and invest alongside us as LPs in a second close. Learn more here.
Cultivate Ventures, the venture arm of major organic products maker Hain Celestial, announced its acquisition of Better Bean this week, a company that’s offering a variety of snack foods. Launched last year, Cultivate Ventures is an incubator and investment program aimed at startups in the small lifestyle brands sector. This is the first acquisition for the program and the company’s first transaction under its newly formed C-suite structure. Read more here.
Precision Ag Startup Semios Wins British Columbia Technology Impact Award
Semios, precision agriculture startup targeting growers of tree fruits and tree nuts, was named ‘Most Promising Startup’ at the 2017 BC Technology Impact Awards. As one of the largest and longest running tech award programs in British Columbia, the TIA’s recognize companies that have the potential to impact their customers and the region at large.
Crop Enhancement Appoints VP R&D, Builds Go-to-Market Team
Crop Enhancement Inc. a biotech startup, has appointed Damian A. Hajduk, as vice president of research and development. Dr. Hajduk will lead efforts to expand the range of applications for Crop Enhancement’s technology that aims to improve crop yields, eliminate or minimize pesticide use, and to enable precise and effective delivery of active ingredients and fertilizers. To accelerate commercialization of its technology, Crop Enhancement also has formed an advisory board and added key personnel to its team to connect with leading growers and partners in the agricultural community. Read more here.
Sanderson Farms Targeted in New Lawsuit with “100% Natural Claim”
Major poultry producer Sanderson Farms found itself in the crosshairs of a nationwide class action lawsuit this week that alleges the company’s use of the term “100% natural” on some of its products is ‘false and misleading.’ Filed by consumer groups, the lawsuit cites documents obtained through a FOIA request revealing that traces of ketamine and pesticides were found on chicken breasts labeled as “100% natural.” Read more here.
Wells Fargo Awards $300k to THRIVE Accelerator
According to SVG Partners, Wells Fargo, one of the biggest lenders in the US commercial agriculture sector, awarded a $300,000 grant to THRIVE, its accelerator program for agtech startups. The grant will be paid out over three years. This investment builds on Wells Fargo’s 2016 commitment to THRIVE, which included technical assistance and a $100,000 philanthropic contribution.
African Development Bank President Wins 2017 World Food Prize
African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina received the 2017 World Food Prize in recognition of the work he’s done over the past two decades expanding food production throughout Africa. Read more about the $250,000 award here.
Kansas Jury Slaps Syngenta with $218m Fine in Corn Marketing Lawsuit
A Kansas jury sided with Kansas corn producers in the first of eight certified state class action lawsuits involving claims that Switzerland-based Syngenta’s actions with its genetically modified strains of corn led to the loss of an important market for US corn and caused the growers economic harm. After a half day of deliberation, the jury found Syngenta negligent and awarded $217.7 million in compensatory damages to the class of more than 7,000 Kansas corn growers, who were represented in the lawsuit by four Kansas corn producer plaintiffs. Read more about the lawsuit here.
DuPont Purchases ERS Genomics’ Ag Patent Portfolio, Partners with Bock on Biogas Enzyme Distribution
Global agricultural products company DuPont has purchased the rights to ERS Genomics’ ag patent portfolio. The Ireland-based startup has developed patents in the CRISPR-Cas technology realm targeting genetic editing for plants. Read more here. Also, DuPont Industrial Biosciences and silage storage specialists Bock UK also announced a strategic partnership where Bock will apply DuPont’s biogas enzyme technology at commercial scale in the UK market. The enzyme technology, OPTIMASH AD-100, is touting by the company as helping biogas producers in the agricultural sector improve yields and process robustness.
18 Early-Stage Companies from 4 Countries Selected to Present at the 2017 Ag Innovation Showcase
Larta Institute, Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and Bio Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park have announced 18 early stage companies that will showcase their innovative work at the ninth annual Ag Innovation Showcase, September 11-13, 2017 at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, in St. Louis, Missouri. Presenting companies will showcase their innovations in the areas of precision agriculture, robotics and big data, pathogen and disease control, biologics, processing technology and alternative food systems deigned to address a range of challenges in global agriculture. Here are the companies along with AIS’ description of their technologies:
Ingredients & Markets:
- Bonumose Biochem – Produces sweet ingredients that lack the same negative health consequences of traditional sugar, while significantly reducing production costs.
- Aspire Food Group – Uses robotics, IoT and automation to farm insects that have a similar protein quality to meat and environmental footprint of plants. Fully-automated and modular technology can be scaled to any size in any geography.
- Bugeater Foods – Food products with improved nutrition value containing insect protein powders.
Decontamination & Disease Detection:
- SnapDNA – Develops low cost, rapid, high throughput, genetic analysis for seeds and pathogens. For food safety, SnapDNA can eliminate 3-day test/hold with projected 2-hour total time-to-result pathogen analysis, elevating supply chain transparency, providing quantitative, strain specific results for rapid identification, isolation, and eradication of pathogen contamination in food production.
- NanoGuard – A new non-thermal pasteurization technology for grain, fresh produce, spices and other food articles to reduce losses and improve the safety, wholesomeness and security of our food.
- SomaDetect – A precision-dairy company that is creating an in-line system for measuring the two most critical indicators of dairy-quality: somatic cells and fat content. It connects farmers with every cow and enables early diagnosis of problems than might arise.
Beneficials and Biologics:
- 3Bar Biologics – Biologics microbial inoculant delivery system, Bio-Yield, stabilizes beneficial microbial preparations improving their efficacy on farm, shelf-life, and ease of application and also expanding the types of microbes available for commercialization.
- NovoBind Livestock Therapeutics – Cost-effective feed additives that function as alternatives to antibiotics. Their products specifically target and neutralize specific pathogens like Salmonella, from livestock.
- Amebagone – Natural biocontrol agents of bacterial pathogens of plants to control invasive and destructive bacterial diseases naturally, without spraying antibiotics or copper, which have limited effectiveness and can be toxic to crops.
- Bee Vectoring Technologies – Turns bees into delivery agents for mixtures of biological inputs for crop pest management.
- Agribody Technologies – Genetic modification (GM) or genome editing (GE) technology delays onset of plant senescence, while increasing resistance to diseases and sub lethal stresses such as drought, heat, cold, salt, low nutrients and crowding in many key crop plants.
- New West Genetics – Ensures stable genetics, optimizes desirable traits, and leads the industry as the first commercial organization to adapt cannabis for sustainable and large-scale production in the U.S.
- Accelerated Ag Technologies –PowerPollenSM enables hybrid crops through cross pollination. The novel pollen handling process decreases the need for multiple resource processes in seed production and increases yield and seed genetic integrity.
Forecasts & Visualization:
- Climate Forecast Applications Network – AgriCast, integrates meteorological forecast information, crop specific forecasts, yield/development models and web-based interactive decision tools. It has the potential to change the current dynamics of the agricultural sector through reducing yield loss and disaster payouts, reducing on-farm resource use, stabilizing food and input prices, making commodities trading more profitable and supporting long-term investment strategies.
- Visual Farms – Improves farm profitability and sustainability by providing independent machine learning systems to farms with algorithms that match optimal hybrids from virtually the entire available market to each farm’s growing conditions and over time, become farms’ Machine Learning system
- Wisran – Identifies operation logistic inefficiencies in real-time for growers to capture profits.
Recovery of Inputs:
- Renix – Delivering excellence in Ion Exchange, Renix provides innovative and integrated solutions for agricultural and industrial liquid purification and recovery of valuable solids
- Nutrient Recovery and Upcycling – Develops systems that recover and upcycle low-grade resources into high value products, such as high-quality fertilizer from water waste systems that helps prevent pollution, ensure food security, and lower the cost of waste water treatment.
Other News That’s Fit to Chew
- Tyson Foods has created a new position to help integrate acquisitions, reports FoodDIVE.
- The FDA signed an MOU with China establishing a registration process for US food manufacturers exporting goods to China, reports The Daily Intake.
- Frito-Lay has filed a patent for its new probiotic yogurt chips, according to FoodDIVE.
- Here’s what Syngenta has planned following the ChemChina transaction, reports Ag Professional.
- Congrats to AgFunder CEO Rob Leclerc on being named as one of Successful Farming’s 10 Up & Comers! Read more here.