The United Soybean Board recently awarded a US$350,000 grant to a biotech company
By Diego Flammini
An ag organization has developed a partnership with a biotechnology company to improve the protein levels in U.S. soybeans.
The United Soybean Board (USB) is supplying Amfora with US$350,000 of funding in 2019 to develop soybean varieties with increased protein content. The farm organization may contribute more financial support if Amfora meets certain targets.
The average protein level in the 2017 soybean crop was 34.1 percent, a U.S. Soybean Export Council report says.
Amfora’s goal is to increase soybean protein levels to about 37.51 percent.
“We have already demonstrated that we can significantly increase the protein content of soybean seed by re-programming a genetic switch in the soybean genome,” Michael Lassner, Amfora’s chief science officer, said in a release.
“By applying gene editing to re-program this switch in commercial soybean varieties, we believe we can accelerate the development and launch of soybeans with at least 10 percent more protein across the U.S. soybean belt.”
Soybean innovation is important to the United Soybean Board.
“Increasing the protein content of U.S.-grown soy is a key strategic objective for the USB, and we are constantly reviewing technologies for their potential to achieve this objective,” Polly Ruhland, CEO of the organization, said in the statement.
Farmers are eager to find out what Amfora discovers.
In a time when U.S. soybeans remain in storage instead of traveling to export markets, anything to make U.S. beans more attractive is welcomed, said John Kelley, a soybean grower from Faucet, Mo.
“I think this could be very interesting,” he told Farms.com. “If (Amfora) is able to do what they say they can, it could help us on the trade front. Livestock producers who feed their animals soybeans might look to our product if it has more protein than a competitor’s.”
Farms.com has reached out to the United Soybean Board and Amfora for comment.