This week in AgChem news, Venture Capitalists take a look at the way we feed the increasing population, innovative startup AgBiome shares new ideas and Monsanto is in trouble. Again.
VC’s List the Top 10 AgTech Companies that will Change the way we We Feed the Population
With the ever growing global population, the amount of food required to sustain more people cannot be understated. Business Insider recently talked with Venture Capitalists, and asked which AgTech company they saw changing the way we feed our world.
The agricultural industry is in an interesting position; more people want a wider variety of foods, and to understand where their food comes from; yet we are simultaneously experiencing a market where the number of agricultural workers are rapidly declining. This paired with more mouths to feed means one thing: the agricultural industry must continually develop new technologies to feed our changing world.
The list contains a wide range of companies, focused on different areas of agricultural innovation. Notable on this list is Apeel Sciences, a grant recipient from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Apeel has created a special coating that goes on the outside of produce to keep it fresher for longer. This product is expected to have an impact on the $1 trillion food waste problem around the world.
AgroStar is another company working to help feed the growing population through a digital app for farmers. With the hashtag #helpingfarmerswin, AgroStar helps Indian farmers improve productivity and income through data inputs.
AgroChem Startup AgBiome Growing New Ideas
The Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina is the home to the AgChem startup AgBiome, which is using genomic science to create tailored pesticides for crops. The company has a microbial strain collection that consists of over 3,500 insect control genes. This allows the company to find innovative new ways to protect crops.
Co-founder and Co-CEO Eric Ward explains, “For new mode-of-action chemistry today, microbial communities are a great source. And there are really interesting chemistry at work.” As funds are being poured into this type of research, and these types of investments allow for the production time from research mode into to use into the field rather quickly.
AgBiome’s mode of innovation is their Genesis Platform, which looks at microbes and allows the company to see which target molecules are correlated with the desired effect. This allows AgBiome to address grower needs quickly and efficiently.
Currently, the company is focusing on specialty crops that have a lower yield but a higher margin. But as their technology continues to develop, AgBiome hopes to focus on “row crops.” It seems that this is just the tip of the iceberg for the innovation in store for this AgChem startup.
Friend or Enemy of Monsanto?
Another headache for Bayer and Monsanto’s PR team: it was recently released that the AgChem giant kept a watch list of who was a friend and who was a foe of the pesticide company. CBS News reports the lists covered politicians, journalists and others across seven European countries and in Brussels.
Earlier this year, the Company promised transparency over who backed the company and who were critics or opponents of the AgChem giant. Bayer has since apologized for the watch lists
This adds on to the list of media nightmares the company has faced recently. In 2018 alone, Bayer (Monsanto’s parent company) found itself paying out $63 billion in conjunction with health related lawsuits. Despite being approved by regulators, the public still remains wary of whether or not the chemicals used within Monsanto’s products are harmful for humans.
Currently, there are approximately 13,400 open lawsuits against Monsanto. The primary product associated with these lawsuits is the common household name Roundup, that contains glysophate, which is thought to cause cancer in humans. These lawsuits have resulted in major compensation for plaintiffs: as much as $2billion for a couple in California who were diagnosed with Lymphoma after using Roundup.