Technology

Amfora’s patented technology addresses the explosion in global demand for high-protein foods while reducing the burden on the environment

Amfora is harnessing biotechnology to build an advanced crop breeding platform to enhance the nutritional density of food and feed crops. The company is applying these technologies to develop a pipeline of products aimed at meeting the growing global demand for foods that are high in protein while enhancing sustainability.

Enhanced Protein Content

A growing population, coupled with an expanding middle class, is significantly increasing the global demand for foods that are high in protein. This demand is being met by increased production of meat, dairy, eggs, and farmed seafood, as well as other sources, such as meat and dairy substitutes made from plant-based protein and novel sources like fungi, insects, and algae.

Amfora is developing a family of feed and food crops that address the growing global demand for foods that are high in protein. Amfora uses biotechnology and advanced crop breeding methodologies to address the challenge.

Amfora’s primary approach is to leverage gene editing, a process for making precise modifications to the genome, to regulate a genetic switch that controls the balance between protein and carbohydrates in all crops. By maintaining this switch in the “on” position, crops produce and store more protein in their seeds at the expense of starch and fiber. This approach is effective in all crops. Amfora is focusing on increasing the protein content of soybeans.

Amfora’s primary approach is to leverage gene editing, a process for making precise modifications to the genome, to regulate a genetic switch that controls the balance between protein and carbohydrates in all crops. By maintaining this switch in the “on” position, crops produce and store more protein in their seeds at the expense of starch and fiber. This approach is effective in all crops. Amfora is focusing on increasing the protein content of soybeans.

Amfora is also applying a multidimensional approach to soy breeding to develop new varieties that maximize protein, oil, and other nutritional components in combination with maximizing yield and agronomic performance. Amfora has assembled an array of high protein germplasm, high yielding germplasm, and alleles to improve nutritional qualities. We use unique phenotyping tools such as single seed near infrared spectroscopy (NIR) to sort seeds with desired oil compositions, high oil, and high protein. This technology allows us to maximize genetic gain and minimize the number of generations (time) to develop high protein lines in combination with other traits critical for agronomic performance. We utilize DNA markers and advanced informatic tools including AI to maximize breeding efficiency and to discover new genes affecting protein, oil, and yield. Increasing the protein density of feed crops reduces the number of acres required to meet the demand for feed, resulting in less burden on the environment.

Consumers are embracing healthy alternatives to meat because of concerns about their own health, as well as the environmental toll that meat production takes on the environment. In addition to the large amounts of water needed to support meat production, livestock are a leading cause of contamination of rivers, lakes, and groundwater. The need for land to support grazing and feed crops is a driver of deforestation. Livestock represents one of the leading sources of greenhouse gases.

The increasing popularity of plant-based meat alternatives can be seen from trendy restaurants to top fast-food chains and major supermarkets promoting the availability of these healthy and nutritious choices. Amfora’s protein-rich soy represents a cost-effective source of protein-rich raw material to meet the rapidly growing demand for these products. By providing the suppliers of plant-based meat and dairy alternatives with a scalable, sustainable, and low-cost supply of their primary ingredient, Amfora will help to enable these companies to displace animal-based protein and dramatically reduce the carbon footprint of food production.

In addition, Amfora is focusing on revolutionizing aquaculture by developing a low-cost, plant-based source of protein for farmed seafood. Meal made from feed-grade fish—herring, mackerel, and anchovies—have long been the main source of feed for farmed fish. A diet high in these feed-grade fish mimics the diet of wild-caught fish. However, the growth of farmed seafood production has outstripped the supply of feed-grade fish, resulting in the use of expensive high-density protein ingredients including soy protein concentrate and wheat gluten to supplement fishmeal in aquaculture feed formulations.

Amfora’s “ultra-high” protein soy has a protein content comparable to fishmeal and the high-density protein ingredients currently used in aquaculture feed formulations. By replacing these expensive ingredients in aquaculture feed formulations, Amfora’s ultra-high protein soybean can dramatically reduce the cost of farmed seafood while preserving the marine ecosystem.

Amfora’s is also applying its practical approach to the protein content of additional food crops including wheat and rice. Increasing the protein content of these crops will make them a more complete source of nutrition and enable the development of a family of high protein foods that can address the growing consumer interest in plant-based protein. In addition, foods made with Amfora’s high-protein, low-starch wheat and rice will have a lower glycemic index, helping health-conscious people control their blood glucose levels, and helping to address the twin epidemics of diabetes and obesity.

Beyond Protein

In addition to increasing the protein content of crop plants, Amfora is taking additional steps to enhance the nutritional profile of crops vital to global food security. This includes optimizing the amino acid profile of plant-based proteins, modifying carbohydrates to reduce their effect on serum glucose, and enhancing micronutrients that help the body to absorb and utilize essential nutrients and promote wellness.