Last week, ag industry professionals and investors from all around the world descended on St. Louis, Missouri to network and learn about the latest developments in agriculture technology at the Ag Innovation Showcase.
The Ag Innovation Showcase is the joint effort of the Bio-Research & Development Growth (BRDG) Park, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Larta Institute. In its seventh year, it has proven to be one of the industry’s favorite events.
Although the event included a wide range of topics and agtech subsectors, ag-biotech and biologicals took center stage and the event highlighted how biotech and agriculture have morphed into a diverse and exciting area of innovation.
Companies operating in this space showcased technologies utilizing everything from ribonucleic acids to mycorrhizal fungi, while law firm Sidley Austin educated attendees on the US regulation of biotech, from biochemical and microbial pesticides to GE crops, and biostimulants.
Here are some of our highlights:
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Israeli company Groundwork BioAg, which recently closed its Series B round of funding, presented a few of its latest technological advancements in biotech covering mycorrhizal fungi, inoculants, and the tremendous opportunity for biotech in the corn and soy industries.
Experience Technologies discussed the opportunities for biotech innovation in the antimicrobial space. The company noted that the food processing and packaging equipment market is anticipated to reach $31.3 billion in value by 2018 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.3 percent, and that livestock disease control concerns will boost the disinfectant and antiseptic market to an anticipated $7.1 billion by 2016 at a CAGR of 11 percent.
AgriMetis, which develops natural product derived compounds to protect crops, recreational land, and gardens from weed, fungus and pest infestations, discussed the benefits of using natural product derived agents in lieu of other products. Naturally-derived products currently represent 8 percent of the market with synthetics dominating 90 percent and biopesticides making up the remaining 2 percent, the company told delegates. AgriMetis also discussed its biotech-pharma approach to developing biotech crop protection agents that meet the needs of farmers, consumers, and regulators.
Canadian dairy biotech company Healthy Cow Corporation made a shocking revelation that declines dairy cow productivity — from six lactations during their lifespan in 1960 to just 2.5 in 2010 — is costing the dairy industry roughly $60 billion a year. By improving the health of the herd, the company is trying to reverse this trend. Adding just two more milk days a year to the working life of a cow, the company says, is effectively equivalent to adding 66 million new cows to the global herd count.
From the food tech world, Fortified Food Coatings spoke about how it’s using biotech to offer a new, patented drug delivery system to enrich pre-prepared meals with additional proteins, vitamins, and minerals encapsulated in a thin layer of gelatin. The product is designed for a plethora of consumers, from the elderly to professional athletes. Using a Fortified Food printer, the gelatin is added to the meal during the food preparation process, ensuring that nutritional values are not compromised.
Other presenters included Forrest Innovations, a company using ribonucleic acid Interference (RNAi) tech to address citrus greening, a devastating bacterial disease wreaking havoc on critical citrus producing regions like Florida, and to combat mosquito-borne diseases affecting humans. APSE, another RNAi-focused company, discussed its latest non-GMO technology, topical RNA for RNAi. And life science company Asilomar Bio, which aims to provide bio-inspired technologies that improve productivity by mitigating environmental stress, also presented.
Closing remarks at the end of the conference indicated that the biological market will continue to make major strides in growth in the coming years, both in terms of innovational developments and investment. And as sciences progress and the federal regulation of synthetic inputs tightens, the demand for biological solutions will continue to increase.
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