By Taylor Wooten
Inari is growing something potentially very big.
From a base in West Lafayette at the Purdue Research Park, the company’s scientists are racing to create environmentally friendly, food-insecurity-fighting crops through special genetic technology.
Founded in 2016, Inari Agriculture Inc. already has a $1.5 billion market value and also maintains a facility in Ghent, Belgium. It was hatched from Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Flagship Pioneering, the same venture capital firm that launched pharmaceutical and biotechnology giant Moderna, which is still based in Cambridge.
″The genesis for Inari—and it continues to be our focus and mission—is, ‘How can we help build a more sustainable food system?’″ said Emily Negrin, Inari’s vice president for corporate affairs.
Inari is using predictive research and gene editing in an effort to reach some key benchmarks: Increase the yield in corn, soybeans and wheat by as much as 20%; decrease the water needed to grow corn 40%; and decrease the nitrogen needed for corn growth 40%.
A report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program estimates that world food production needs to increase 60% to 100% by 2100 to feed ″a larger, wealthier and more urban global population.″
Inari is hoping to make quick strides toward that goal by helping to develop seeds for row crops that produce higher yields and require fewer nutrients. What could be done in 10 to 15 years using traditional plant-breeding techniques, Inari can do in four to six years with gene editing, Negrin told IBJ.
Inari competes with agribusinesses such as Switzerland-based Syngenta, Germany-based Bayer (which owns Monsanto) and Indianapolis-based Corteva Agriscience. But unlike most, Inari doesn’t produce seeds—instead, it develops the technology to alter seeds’ DNA, Negrin said.
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