The world’s largest fertilizer company has agreed to distribute a new soybean variety that promises to soak up more carbon while yielding more of the vegetable oil and protein needed to meet demand for green diesel, chicken feed and veggie burgers.
Nutrien Ltd. will sell the genetically-modified seeds produced by San Diego-based startup ZeaKal Inc., the companies said in a joint statement Wednesday. US farmers will be the first to get the offering, just in time for the 2024 season. Terms weren’t disclosed.
The move comes as seed makers including Corteva Inc. are developing new crop varieties to meet rising demand for the renewable diesel and alternative proteins industries. Genetic modifications to increase soybean yields over the years have come at the cost of nutritional value, according to ZeaKal.
The collaboration with Nutrien is ZeaKal’s latest step to bring to market its PhotoSeed trait technology, which allows plants to sustain photosynthesis for longer.
“PhotoSeed tricks the plant into thinking it is hungrier for longer so it eats more carbon,” ZeaKal Chief Executive Officer Han Chen said in response to Bloomberg questions.
The seeds initially will be available to some farmers who supply grain to the soy-processing unit of Perdue Farms Inc.. The chicken producer last year agreed to buy PhotoSeed soybeans as part of a multiyear agreement to raise more “sustainable poultry.”
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