Our major crop protection trait platforms are: Weeds, Disease, Insects/Nematodes, Nitrogen Use Efficiency and Agronomy.
These platforms address the major areas that cause the majority of crop loss events and directly impact the sustainability of farming.
Our trait platforms address the critical pathways associated with making farming more sustainable and reducing the carbon footprint of farming. This is because Crop Protection Traits lower crop inputs such as chemicals, fuel and manpower associated with the production of our crops. They are non-chemical solutions that make farming more efficient, profitable and sustainable. As opposed to crop protection chemicals, the goal of Crop Protection Traits is to enable the crop to withstand specific environmental conditions with less or no chemicals. In essence, Crop Protection Traits let farmers do more for less with the same or higher yields.
Precision gene editing technologies are the face and the promise of scale solutions to address the most intractable environmental problems in crop farming. Each of our products is focused on addressing these problems.
Our Initial Trait Platforms
Our initial trait products are expected to be in Canola, Rice and Soybean.
Managing or controlling weeds at scale is one of the great challenges for broad acre crops. Developing crops that were resistant to the major herbicides was one of the great innovations of GMO technologies. It enabled farmers to control weeds more efficiently with fewer chemicals. As a result, in countries that allow GMO traits, virtually all herbicides are sold in weed control systems that pair herbicide resistant seeds with the relevant herbicide chemistry.
The approval of gene editing technologies will open up one of the biggest opportunities in agriculture: a new generation of Crop Protection Traits associated with herbicide tolerant that will be able address:
- The large number of countries that have not had the benefit of the GMO traits for herbicide tolerance
- The large number of crops that have not had the benefit of the GMO traits for herbicide tolerance
- Herbicide tolerance traits for the new generation of herbicides
The impact of these new herbicide tolerance traits is expected to mirror the dramatic impact GMO crop protection traits for herbicide tolerance had on farming.
Herbicide tolerance traits for weed control represent an important trait platform for Cibus. Our goal is a whole new generation of herbicide traits across the major crop platforms: Soybean, Canola, Rice, Wheat and Corn. Our initial focus is soybean, canola and rice. Currently we are working with three different herbicides. We have had successful greenhouse trials with two of the herbicides and successful field trials with one herbicide. We are expecting several more greenhouse and field trials in 2021 and 2022.
Managing or controlling insects at scale is another of the great challenges of farming broad acre crops. One of the great breakthroughs in GMO technology was the development of seeds that were that genetically altered to express one or more proteins from bacteria that were toxic to insects. As a result, in countries that allow GMO traits, virtually all corn and soybean seeds are sold with an insect control system including these traits. Countries that banned GMO traits have never had the benefit of the efficiency of these insect systems.
The approval of gene editing technologies will open up one of the biggest opportunities in agriculture: a new generation of Crop Protection Traits associated with insect tolerance that will be able address:
- The large number of countries that have not had the benefit of the GMO traits for insect tolerance
- The large number of crops that have not had the benefit of the GMO traits for insect tolerance
- Insect tolerance traits for the new generation of insects generated by our changing environment
The impact of these new insect tolerance traits is expected to mirror the dramatic impact GMO crop protection traits for insect tolerance had on farming.
Our initial focus is for nematode tolerance in soybean. Managing nematodes is one of the great challenges of soybean farming and one of the greatest causes of crop loss. We are expecting to have an RTDS soybean crop platform developed by year end 2021. Nematode tolerance will be one of our first development efforts on this platform.
Managing or controlling disease has been one of the big shortcomings of GMO technologies. The impact of GMO technologies on disease has been relatively limited. As a result, disease remains the largest cause of crop loss and yield in farming for virtually every crop after weeds. The approval of gene editing technologies will open one of the biggest opportunities in agriculture: disease resistant traits. The impact of these traits is expected to mirror the dramatic impact Crop Protection Traits for herbicide tolerance had on farming costs, yields and profitability. Trait fees for Crop Protection Traits associated with herbicide tolerance are believed to exceed $10 billion per year despite being limited to certain geographies and crops.
Disease resistance traits represent an important trait platform for Cibus. Our current focus is fungal diseases in the five major crops: Soybean, Canola, Rice, Corn and Wheat. Initially, our efforts are in disease in soybean, canola and rice. Each of these are critically important areas for these crops. Within the disease categories, specific diseases such as white mold impact several crops. Like with our efforts in canola and soybean, this provides the opportunity to create disease specific platforms that are associated with several crops. We had our first successful field trial for our initial Crop Protection Trait for white mold in canola in 2020. We expect to have several more field trials in 2021.
Nitrogen Use Efficiency
Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) is a major constraint for crop production in many global crops. Many crops require the addition of fertilizer for higher yields and this is a significant input cost. Unfortunately much of the nitrogen added is not taken up by the crop or when taken up not used efficiently.
NUE in crops can reduce the need for fertilizer and importantly can improve plant nitrogen uptake so less nitrogen ends up in soil or water runoff. Nitrogen runoff can cause environmental issues in our rivers and streams, so any reduction is important for making agriculture more sustainable.
Many plants have structural or physiological weaknesses that make them vulnerable to their environment. Agronomic traits address these. The promise of gene editing is that the many agronomic targets have not been addressed using traditional breeding or GMO technology can now be tackled.
Cibus’ Pod Shatter Reduction trait in canola is a great example of an important agronomic trait. It is our first developed crop protection trait. It changes canola farming by making the crops more resistant to high winds. In so doing, it avoids losses to pod shatter and enables farmers to control the time of harvest. These are the types of benefits you get from agronomic traits.