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Ag Industry Brief: Organic Board Excludes Gene-Edited Food, Agriculture Accelerators Launch, New Hires, more

November 28, 2016

NOSB Votes to Exclude Gene-edited Food from Organic Register

The National Organic Standards Board voted unanimously last week to update US organic standards to exclude ingredients derived from next generation genetic engineering and gene editing, including synthetic biology. This means that products derived from these technologies will not be allowed in the production or final product of foods and beverages that are certified organic. Synthetic biology is a new set of genetic engineering techniques that includes using synthetic DNA to re-engineer organisms to produce substances they would not normally produce or to edit DNA to silence the expression of certain traits. Despite growing concerns about the possible impacts of synthetic biology organisms on human health and the environment and a lack of independent safety assessment, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has allowed DuPont’s CRISPR waxy corn and other similarly created food and cosmetic ingredients to enter the market without regulation.

INOVISA Extends Application Period for cropUP Program

Designed to help entrepreneurs and startups develop their foodtech, agtech, and forestry innovations, INOVISA’s cropUP program has extended its application period to December 2, 2016. With the cropUP program, INOVISA will give participants selected access to R&D and industry, connect them with investors looking for agrifood and forestry innovations, and support the internationalization of their startup. Beyond these specialized services, entrepreneurs and startups will have the possibility to gain access to incubation space, coworking and shared facilities at INOVISA’s headquarters in the heart of Lisbon.

Village Capital Launches 4th Agriculture Accelerator 

Village Capital, in partnership with Blue Sky Network and organic product maker The Hain Celestial Group, has launched its 2016 agriculture program. According to Village Capital, this is the longest running agriculture-specific accelerator in the United States. Local Louisville leaders Stephen Reily and Emily Bingham as well as The Owsley Brown Family Foundation are supporting this year’s program. Venture capital fund Green Spark Ventures and VilCap Investments have committed $100k to each of the two companies ranked highest by their peers at the end of the program. The program consists of three four-day intensive workshops held in Louisville and Davis, CA over a few months.

Redag Crop Protection Appoints New Head of Biology

Agrochemical company Redag Crop Protection has appointed Dr. Mikael Courbot as head of biology. Dr. Courbot joins from multi-national agribusiness Syngenta, where he spent nine years working across sites in Switzerland and the UK. His areas of expertise include mechanisms of heavy metal transport and homeostasis in fungi and plants, in-depth knowledge of abiotic stresses, along with the development of screening platforms. His mission at Redag will be to develop state-of-the-art screening capabilities to gauge the efficacy of the novel herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides that the company is developing. Dr. Courbot obtained his Ph.D. from the Université Henri Poincaré in Nancy, France, on Plant Biology & Genetics, focusing on ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Soda Makers Snap up Small Brands to Diversify

Last week two major soda makers announced that they are entering deals to purchase alternative beverage makers. Dr Pepper Snapple is aiming to snap up antioxidant beverage brewer Bai Brands for $1.7 billion. Meanwhile, Pepsi is looking to snag KeVita, a probiotic and kombucha beverage brewer, for an undisclosed price. Sources suggest that the purchases signal the soda industry’s continued attempt to maintain its consumer base among shifting preferences and heightened focus on the health-associated risks of consuming sugary drinks regularly.

Whole Foods Aims to Rebrand Pricey Reputation with New Slogan

The health food store that has earned a variety of nicknames for its often-shocking prices is hoping to cheapen its image. Whole Foods recently announced that it will advance “great everyday low prices” as a tagline on its paper grocery bags, just like Walmart’s infamous slogan, “everyday low prices.” This copycat conundrum leaves one wondering whether a lawsuit may be bubbling up in Whole Foods’ future. In the meantime, the rebranding is part of the national grocer’s launch of its ‘365 by Whole Foods’ chain of stores targeting a lower income range with cheaper natural and organic products.

Memphis Meats Launches Indiegogo Campaign

The company claiming it has grown the “first clean meatball” has launched an Indiegogo campaign to raise free funding. Designed to allow consumers a chance to support Memphis Meats’ mission “to help bring clean meat products to the world,” contributions will be used to fund a public education campaign regarding their “clean meat” products. According to its estimate, for every three dollars donated Memphis Meats will be able to reach 50 people. Folks who donate will receive some merchandise, an exclusive peak at how the company is progressing and a chance to give some input on its plans. It’s targeting $100k.

Other News That’s Fit to Chew

  • A federal judge in Hawaii has blocked several counties’ attempts to create GMO-free zones, on FoodDIVE.
  • Officials in Denmark have detected the first signs of H5N8 bird flue at a poultry farm in Denmark, on Reuters.
  • What impact would President-Elect Trump’s deportation plan have on the US farm industry, on The Huffington Post.
  • Walmart is testing whether blockchain technology could help combat food safety risks, on Bloomberg Technology.
  • Tyson Foods named current company president Tom Hayes as the next CEO, on Reuters.

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