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Ag Industry Brief: Soylent’s Canada Ban, Organic Valley 100% Renewable by 2019, China Produces Gene-Edited Pigs, more

October 27, 2017

Soylent Banned in Canada

Soylent, the meal replacement drink startup, has been banned in Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency claims that the drink does not fulfill the nutritional requirements of a meal and therefore cannot be labeled thus. “Our products do not meet a select few of the CFIA requirements for a ‘meal replacement,'” wrote Rob Rhinehart, founder and chief executive of Soylent-maker Rosa Foods, on the product’s website. “Although we feel strongly that these requirements do not reflect the current understanding of human nutritional needs, we respect the CFIA’s regulations and will fully comply with any regulatory action they deem appropriate.” Soylent had 300% growth in sales between 2015-16 and has raised $74.5 million in funding.

China Creates Gene-Edited, Low-Fat Pigs

Chinese scientists have created 12 healthy pigs with about 24% less body fat than normal pigs using CRISPR Cas-9 gene editing technology, according to a paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists bred the pigs with the aim of providing pig farmers with animals that would suffer less in cold weather and therefore reduce heating bills and feeding costs, according to NPR. The scientists created the low-fat animal by editing a gene that allows them to regulate their body temperatures better by burning fat. But will consumers and regulators feel comfortable with these gene-edited pigs? Join the conversation on #feedit.

Organic Valley to Use 100% Renewable Energy by 2019

Organic Valley, the farmer cooperative and organic farming group announced that it will become the largest food company in the world to source all of its electricity from renewable sources in 2019. The cooperative has committed to purchasing energy credits from solar panels that’ll be installed nearby to its La Farge, Wisconsin headquarters. Organic Valley says the project will increase the overall solar energy use in the state by 15 percent, reads The New Food Economy.

Cannabis Biotech Startup Partners with UC Davis on Genomic Research

Front Range Biosciences (FRB), a cannabis ag biotech startup, has partnered with UC Davis on a genomics research initiative to advance the understanding of cannabis for medical and nutraceutical uses. The research team will consist of Professor Dario Cantu in the Department of Viticulture and Enology, research scientists in the Cantu lab, and members of the FRB team. During the project, FRB will isolate DNA from hemp cultivars that are low in THC and solely for industrial uses. The company will send these DNA samples to UC Davis for Next-Generation Sequencing and bioinformatic analysis to create a better genome reference for cannabis.

ADM Capital Invests in Large Spanish Olive Oil Producer

ADM Capital, the agribusiness private equity fund manager,  has acquired a controlling majority stake in Olivos Naturales (Innoliva), one of Europe’s largest Extra Virgin Olive Oil producers through its $100 million Cibus Fund. This is the fund’s second investment. Read more here.

Cargill Acquires Diamond V to Boost Animal Feed Business

Cargill has acquired Diamond V, an animal health, feed additive and food safety technology company. The acquisition will give Cargill market-leading participation in the $20 billion global animal feed additives market, according to a press release. Diamond V has a 75-year history in developing immune support technologies that work naturally with the biology of the animal to promote a healthy digestive system and enhance animal performance, and food safety.

Hazel Tech Receives $600k SBIR Grant

Hazel Technologies, a startup developing food shelf-life enhancement technology for fresh produce, has won a $600k grant from the USDA via the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. This is the second grant from USDA after an earlier $100k development grant in 2016. With the funding, Hazel Tech will explore the export marketplace and hope to enhance its technology to reduce food waste around the world. “The USDA awarded this grant based on endorsements from growers who have tested our technologies,” said Aidan Mouat, CEO and co-founder of Hazel Technologies.

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