Startup GreenLight Is Mass-Producing RNA to Fight Crop Pests
(Bloomberg) -- Biotechnology startup GreenLight Biosciences Inc. is going to make mass quantities of RNA -- a component of cells used in Covid-19 vaccines -- to combat crop pests.
GreenLight has opened a facility in Rochester, New York that will manufacture enzymes and RNA for products targeting pests that do everything from destroy potato crops to hurt honeybees. The company cites several environmentally friendly benefits to traditional pesticides. RNA degrades quickly in the environment, and the technology doesn’t impact anything but the pests.
Farmers and agribusinesses are increasingly turning to sustainable alternatives to chemicals as consumers throw their dollars toward foods that claim to be more environmentally friendly, and concerns grow over the role Big Ag plays in climate change.
The company figured out how to scale production of RNA at low cost, which could change the game for agriculture, Mark Singleton, GreenLight’s senior vice president of technology and external innovation, said in an interview.
“You’ve got to be able to make a lot of RNA,” he said.
So far, the company has products that kill pests like the Colorado potato beetle and the Varroa destructor mite, which contributes to the collapse of beehives.
GreenLight expects to get U.S. government approval for its Colorado potato beetle-fighting technology in the second quarter of 2022. The company was founded in 2008 and has raised about $235 million as it looks for applications of RNA in human, animal and plant health. The company said in August it would go public through a merger with Environmental Impact Acquisition.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.