Better potatoes and less use of pesticides - SLU Holding invests in SolEdits
At SolEdits AB, the business idea is to improve the properties of commercially interesting potato varieties. Behind the newly started company are researchers from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), SLU Holding AB and Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter, an association of Swedish starch producers.
SolEdits is now investing in making the CRISPR genetic scissors available as a plant breeding tool for all stakeholders in the potato industry.
The food chain is facing major challenges and there is a demand for new solutions in plant breeding in order to be able to make production more sustainable.
Through the investment in SolEdits, we have been given a unique opportunity to participate in developing a company with world-leading expertise in CRISPR Cas9 technology and hopefully thereby be able to contribute to a revolutionary restructuring of future plant breeding, says Nicholas Jacobsson, business developer at SLU Holding.
SolEdits is the spin-off from a fruitful research collaboration between SLU and Sveriges Stärkelseproducenter. Within the collaboration, an efficient plant breeding method for potatoes has been developed. The breeding method is based on the recent Nobel Prize-winning genetic scissors, CRISPR-Cas9, where genetic variation can be introduced into potatoes without any new genetic material being added. The method is a much more specific variant of traditional mutation breeding, which since the 1930s has resulted in thousands of new plant varieties, many of which are grown in fields around the world.
We are now taking the initiative and moving the technology from the lab to the benefit of society, thus becoming an important tool for meeting the major challenges we face in terms of climate, health, environment and sustainable economic development, says Chairman of the SolEdit Board Hans Berggren.
The project has initially produced a starch potato with a specially designed starch quality. The new potato starch, unlike native starch, will have a natural storage stability in products, and will replace chemically modified starch in many food products. The consumer gets an E-number-free food, the industry can reduce its use of chemicals by up to 6,000 tons of chemicals per year in Sweden alone, and the grower gets an added value in the form of additional payment for a more unique raw material.
We will work with great transparency regarding the properties we are working with and contracts have already been agreed for the company's first two projects, says SolEdit's CEO Mariette Andersson.
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