Ultra-High Protein (UHP) soybeans a step closer to market – thanks to gene editing

The quest for alternative proteins produced with less carbon and water moved forward with a partnership to use high-protein soybeans developed through genomics innovation in commercially produced food products, Good Day BIO writes.

Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO) member Benson Hill, a pioneer in CRISPR gene-editing technology, announced a new partnership with global nutrition specialist ADM. According to the announcement, ADM will manufacture Benson Hill’s Ultra-High Protein (UHP) soybeans into food products produced at scale and sold commercially.

According to Benson Hill, “these varieties are the first commercially available soybeans that can effectively replace soy protein concentrate via typical soybean crushing.”

Benson Hill also argues “this innovation enables food companies to eliminate costly energy and water-intensive processing steps across the consumer food, animal feed and aquaculture markets.”

How the process works?

“Benson Hill’s seed-to-shelf innovation pipeline leverages plant genomics to drive ingredient innovation through its CropOS™ platform. CropOS™ accelerates the path to market by employing proprietary phenotyping, predictive breeding and environmental modeling algorithms, allowing Benson Hill plant breeders to optimize not only the protein content of its soy varieties but also the optimal environments for these varieties to be planted,” per Benson Hill.

In addition, these “ultra-High Protein varieties were developed through traditional breeding, allowing non-GMO certification and unrestricted use in U.S. and export markets, including Europe,” Benson Hill states.

Acceptance of plant-based meat grows

BIO states that consumers are growing more accepting of plant-based foods (including meat).

The “U.S. retail sales of plant-based foods continued to increase by double digits in 2020, growing 27 percent and bringing the total plant-based market value to $7 billion. This growth in dollar sales was consistent across the nation, with more than 25 percent growth in every U.S. census region,” according to Plant Based Foods Association.

“We are excited to partner with ADM to help address demand in high-value and high-growth protein ingredient markets, while broadly delivering innovation and impact across the agri-food value chain to benefit farmers, food companies and consumers,” said Benson Hill CEO Matt Crisp.

“The natural genetic diversity of plants is one of the most powerful sources of product differentiation for companies driving the modern food system,” Crisp added. “Our Ultra-High Protein portfolio and channel capabilities enable Benson Hill to meet customers where they are and empower innovators with cost-effective, scalable solutions.”

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