Sep. 19, 2017
Argentinian company Bioheuris has received the official approval this week to start a project that promises to revolutionize agricultural biotechnology, through the development of soybean resistant to herbicides with three different modes of action.
The local regulators have confirmed that it will not consider genetically-modified organism (GMO). Local website Javier Preciado pointed out that this was a milestone for local science and stated, “This will let the age of transgenesis enter into the genomic (or genic) editing technology, to revolutionize the progress in plant breeding.”
“Basically, what we do is to modify the protein through which the herbicide acts, which causes resistance,” Carlos Perez, general manager of Bioheuris, explained.
The company has completed two years, and was created by Peres and his colleagues, agronomists Lucas Lieber and Rinaldo Gosparini. The idea is to use technologies that will allow modifying the genetic structure of a plant to add new attribute without introducing the genetic material of other species, which differs from transgenesis. The key is the nucleases, enzymes that allow to “edit” the genome of soybean.
The initiative is sustained through three processes: DNA modification of soybean to make it resistant to herbicides, a germplasm that hosts this modification and the herbicide molecules that applied to control the weed problems.
For this, Bioheuris is cooperating with Santa Rosa breeding place, a national cooperative that has been working toward the improvement of soybean for decades, and Rotam, an Asian company that operates in the market of phytosanitary products.
Perez observed that there were many advantages in working with this technology. One of these, perhaps major one, is the direct manipulation of elite germplasms. On the other hand, transgenesis transforms model plants of low agronomic value, and from there, these genes will enter the elite germplasm.
“We estimate that coming to the market with these soybean will require five or six years,” noted Perez. He maintained that the resistance of weeds was a problem that would continue, and this technology would complement other technologies that are available.
The local startup had sent a consultation to the Ministry of Agriculture to check if the project would be considered a GMO, according to the ruling norms. The answer, responded by the Ministry of Agriculture, after the analysis carried out by Conabia, is that this "super soybean” will not be considered as a GMO.