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  • Yield10 Bioscience Inc.

USDA determines Yield10’s glufosinate-tolerant camelina may be planted, bred in US


Camelina

Yield10 Bioscience Inc. announced Nov. 15 that the USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Biotechnology Regulatory Services has determined that Yield10’s glufosinate-tolerant camelina may be grown and bred in the United States.

Yield10 submitted a request for regulatory-status review (RSR) to the BRS under the SECURE Rule in June 2022 for glufosinate-tolerant camelina.

The response from USDA-APHIS means that the agency does not consider the modified camelina plant to be an increased plant pest risk as compared to unmodified camelina and is therefore not subject to regulation under 7 CFR part 340 regulations.

Yield10’s submission along with the USDA-APHIS BRS response is posted on the USDA’s website.

“The regulatory clearance of glufosinate-tolerant camelina through USDA-APHIS represents a significant commercial milestone for Yield10,” said Kristi Snell, chief scientific officer of Yield10 Bioscience. “Our approach to developing elite camelina varieties is based on introducing new traits into the crop to benefit growers. We believe glufosinate-tolerant camelina will provide growers with new options for weed management allowing camelina to fit seamlessly into crop rotations driving commercial adoption. We are building seed inventory of our spring glufosinate-tolerant camelina to support commercial launch as early as 2025 to support grower contracts to produce low-carbon feedstock oil for the biofuel market.”

Yield10 CEO Oliver Peoples added, “Decarbonizing transportation biofuels and identifying scalable replacements for depleted fish-oil sources of omega-3 fatty acids for health and nutrition represent major societal challenges and will require sustainable agriculture solutions based on all of the advanced genetic tools available for improving crop productivity, in particular stacking genetic traits using combinations of gene editing and traditional genetic-engineering methods. We believe this first approval from USDA-APHIS for herbicide-tolerant camelina is a major commercial milestone that reinforces our commitment to using best-in-class advanced gene technologies to improve the performance and economic value of the camelina crop. Our spring E3902 herbicide-tolerant camelina variety embodies this approach combining eight gene edits to boost oil content along with the gene-conferring herbicide tolerance introduced using traditional genetic-engineering methods. Stacking new traits in camelina will enable us to expand our portfolio of commercial camelina varieties available to growers.”

Peoples continued, saying, “With over 30 years of safety experience with biotech crops in the U.S., we’re pleased to see the science-based approach codified in the SECURE Rule to evaluate and confirm the regulatory status of well-studied traits deployed into new crops. This framework also enables clarity around the regulatory path early in the development of new traits, enabling close alignment of the timing for the confirmation of regulatory status, seed-production ramp up and commercial-launch planning.”

Glufosinate, a broad-spectrum Class 10 herbicide, is used to protect seed yield by controlling broadleaf weeds during commercial crop production.

In August 2022, Yield10 reported that the company had observed good herbicide tolerance to glufosinate in its candidate camelina lines and chose lead lines for commercial development.

Yield10 is currently scaling up seed inventory in anticipation of the commercial launch of glufosinate-tolerant camelina.

Yield10 is also developing camelina stacked herbicide-tolerant traits combining tolerance to glufosinate along with tolerance to Group 2 soil residual herbicide to produce a robust weed-control package for growers of the crop.

Yield10 is developing elite varieties of camelina to supply under grower contracts to produce feedstock oils for the biofuel market and to produce omega-3 (EPA, DHA) oils for use as pharmaceutical, nutritional and animal feed ingredients.

The SECURE Rule was published on May 18, 2020, and represented the first comprehensive revision of APHIS’s biotechnology regulations since 1987.

The revisions enable APHIS to regulate organisms developed using genetic engineering for plant pest risk with greater precision and reduced regulatory burden for developers of organisms that are unlikely to pose plant pest risks.

Once a specific plant developed through genetic engineering is found not to require regulation, new varieties of the plant containing the same genetic modification would similarly not be regulated.

Camelina plants containing herbicide-tolerance traits are subject to labeling under EPA regulations.

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