Bayer collaborates to advance genome editing for improved nutrition

4 June 2024 | Muriel Cozier

‘Great innovations need great minds and the power of many’

Bayer is collaborating with two companies that are using genome editing to enhance the nutritional value of tomatoes and mustard greens. The collaborations are part of Bayer’s newest open innovation platform.

Partnering with South Korea’s G+FLAS, a biotech company, the two businesses are developing genome edited tomatoes that are enhanced with vitamin D3. Deficiency in this vitamin is said to impact around a billion people across the world. G+FLAS will share its genome editing technology, while Bayer will provide its proprietary tomato germplasm.

To go with the tomatoes, Bayer is also looking to increase the nutritional value of leafy vegetables; in partnership with Pairwise. Bayer has acquired a licence from the US-based agritech start-up that grants rights to work with and commercialise the Pairwise genome edited mustard greens. Bayer noted that the mustard greens are the first gene edited food introduced to the North American market.

Bayer said that these two developments are part of its innovation strategy; combining its research and development capabilities with ‘knowledge and ingenuity from experts outside the company.’

‘Great innovations need great minds and the power of many,’ said JD Rossouw, Head of Vegetables Research & Development at Bayer. ‘This is why we are seeking to partner with academic researchers and companies to develop new fruit and vegetable products that have increased nutritional content, positive environmental impact, or enhanced consumer appeal by harnessing the speed and precision of genome editing and new breeding techniques.’ Rossouw added.

Bayer is growing its portfolio in fruit and vegetable innovation. In September 2023 the company said that it was set to acquire the strawberry breeding programme of the UK’s National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB). Bayer said the move would allow its Crop Science Division to provide a broader range of solutions for growers in the expanding ‘protected strawberry’ market.

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