USA- The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved for the sale and growth of corn plants developed by Insignum AgTech. 

These genetically modified plants incorporate unique traits that enable them to communicate and signal to farmers when specific plant stresses commence.

Insignum AgTech, founded by CEO Kyle Mohler in 2019, specializes in developing plant genetic traits that use naturally occurring pigments to communicate stress signals to farmers. Mohler, who holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from Purdue University’s College of Agriculture, expressed his excitement about the USDA decision.

The USDA APHIS reviewed 12 plants modified using genetic engineering, focusing on assessing whether they posed an increased risk as plant pests compared to non-modified comparators. 

The USDA concluded that these modified plants, including Insignum AgTech’s corn plants, were unlikely to pose an increased plant pest risk and, therefore, are not subject to regulation under 7 CFR part 340.

According to Mohler, this decision marks a significant milestone for Insignum AgTech and its customers. 

It means our edited plants can be grown and tested across the U.S. without restrictive permits, opening the door for our customers to run trials,” Mohler stated. “It strengthens our ability to help farmers treat specific problems affecting their crops exactly when, precisely where, and only if needed to sustainably increase crop production.

The approved corn plants developed by Insignum AgTech exhibit a unique feature – they turn purple to indicate the onset of a fungal infection before it becomes visible. This early warning system provides farmers with a valuable tool to address potential issues promptly and efficiently.

Mohler also outlined the company’s plans to develop additional plant traits using different natural pigments, such as red or blue, to provide early indications of other yield-limiting factors like insect pests or fertility loss. This approach aims to empower farmers to treat specific issues precisely, thereby increasing yields without unnecessary input costs.

Insignum AgTech’s collaborative efforts with Beck’s, as evidenced by their agreement to test corn traits in elite varieties, highlight the industry’s recognition of the potential benefits of these innovative genetic traits. 

In January 2022, Insignum AgTech received a US$100,000 investment from the Purdue Ag-Celerator, further supporting its mission to advance agricultural innovation.

The USDA’s decision opens up new possibilities for agricultural innovation and sustainable crop production, reflecting the industry’s commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technology for the benefit of farmers and the food supply chain.

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