RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Nova Synthetix and Precision BioSciences, Inc., today announced that they have initiated a joint research effort to generate non-GM, ricin-free castor plants using Precision’s Directed Nuclease Editor (DNE) technology in combination with Nova Synthetix’s proprietary plant transformation system. Scientists at Nova Synthetix and Precision also plan to utilize their joint capabilities to generate improved castor variants capable of producing user defined oil profiles for industrial, biofuel, and feed-directed applications. The companies believe that the successful development of this multi-year research effort will address a significant agricultural need and result in a castor plant that is safer and has far greater market utility.
The need to replace petroleum-derived materials with sustainable, non-polluting alternatives is driving the 2.1 mm Mt/$4B biobased polymers market. Castor oil is used in many applications, including biobased nylons, a 0.2 mm Mt market growing at >25%/Yr. Nova Synthetix has developed a non-GM strategy to eliminate castor seed toxin (ricin) gene expression enabling the expansion of castor cultivation and improving castor-derived feedstocks availability. Ricin-free castor will also serve as a platform for “designer” oils for new biobased materials.
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In Jamaica, the Government is collaborating on a project with Noranda Jamaica Bauxite Partners, to demonstrate the viability of the biofuels industry, using mined out bauxite lands to grow oil-producing crops such as castor and palm.The collaboration involves the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica (PCJ), and the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Jamaica.
A wholly-owned subsidiary of US-based BioPower Operations, has agreed to develop a castor plantation and milling operation in Paraguay. Under the terms of the agreement Ambrosia, a development company, will provide the land, pay costs for the testing and give BioPower a monthly project management fee and reimbursement of expenses during the test period for subcontractors on the ground in Paraguay.
BioPower will provide project management testing services through the testing phase for up to 12 months until the successful certification of the yield from growing castor is proven, subject to material and adverse events.
Once the project is approved then, under the Castor Master Farm Management Services agreement, $10 million will be invested from Ambrosia towards the building, development and operations of the castor plantation and mill. BioPower will either earn 6% of the net income for 10 years or have an option to become a 20% owner of the project.