Source: Amfora news release
Amfora Inc., a biotechnology company committed to improving the nutritional content of food and feed crops, today unveiled a major new program to develop crops with enhanced protein.
Amfora’s Hi-Pro program will apply proven patented technology to increase the protein content in food and feed crops. Amfora’s technology has increased the protein content of large-acre food and feed crops by up to 60 percent. Protein is increased at the expense of starch and other carbohydrates, thereby increasing the nutritional density of these important crops.
Amfora’s High-Pro technology is based on controlling the expression of a specific gene that is present in all plants. “By regulating the activity of a particular genetic switch called a transcription factor, we change the balance between protein and carbohydrates in crop plants, increasing the nutritional value of crops at the expense of empty calories,” said Mike Lassner, Chief Science Officer of Amfora.
“Because we will use gene editing to regulate the activity of this specific transcription factor, Amfora’s Hi-Pro products are not expected to be regulated as GMOs,” said Lassner.
Since the mechanism for increasing protein content is present in all crops, Amfora will be exploiting this technology to develop High-Pro feed crops including soy and alfalfa, and High-Pro staple food crops including wheat and rice, enhancing the nutritional density of crops that are the foundations of the diet for the developed and developing world.
“Our High-Pro technology allows us to address the rapidly growing global demand for meat and dairy products, farmed seafood, and plant-based protein,” said Lloyd M. Kunimoto, CEO of Amfora. “Enhancing the nutritional density of large-acre feed and food crops will significantly reduce the carbon footprint of feeding a growing global population, as well as improve the efficiency of fertilizer use, which will reduce cost and provide environmental benefits.”
One of the first applications of the technology Amfora will pursue is development of High-Pro soy for feed to meet the growing demand of the aquaculture industry. Currently, raising farmed seafood requires feed that is very high in protein to maximize growth rates. Fishmeal produced from wild-caught fish, such as anchovy, sardine, and mackerel, has been the primary source of protein for farmed seafood. The fishmeal market in 2017 was approximately $6 billion and is expected to grow to $10 billion by 2027, according to the market intelligence and consulting firm Future Market Insights.
However, the rapidly growing demand for farmed seafood has outstripped the supply of fishmeal. This has dramatically increased the price of fishmeal and catalyzed the incorporation of costly plant-based protein concentrates, typically used as food ingredients and in nutritional supplements, into aquaculture feed formulations.
Amfora is developing Hi-Pro soy that can produce meal with a protein content that is comparable to fishmeal without the capital and energy-intensive concentration process that is used to produce plant-based protein concentrates. By applying the Hi-Pro technology to develop protein-rich soy with a protein content that is comparable to fishmeal, Amfora can deliver a more sustainable and cost-effective supply of high-protein feed to the large and rapidly growing aquaculture industry.
Amfora also intends to apply its Hi-Pro technology to develop food crops such as legumes and vegetables, to provide more plant-based protein in the diet. This will enable vegetables to provide more complete nutrition in addition to providing fiber and micronutrients, such as vitamins and trace minerals.
“In addition to making leafy vegetables a better source of protein, we can increase the protein content of crops used to produce meat and dairy alternatives, including peas and beans, which will make the production of these products more scalable and sustainable,” said Mr. Kunimoto.
Amfora is an emerging leader in the use of biotechnology to address the rapidly growing, global demand for meat and dairy products, farmed seafood, and plant-based protein. Amfora is developing crops that increase the nutritional value of food and forage crops while minimizing the cost, resources, and environmental impact of meeting global food demand. Amfora is based in San Francisco and is a portfolio company of the MLS II Fund, co-managed by Spruce Capital Partners, LLC. More information can be found on the company’s website at www.amforainc.com