Calyxt Expands Its Gene-Editing Tech To More Crops

Calyxt is celebrating its success with its gene-edited high oleic soybean product, making a shift in its go-to-market strategy, and announcing multiple crops and products in its pipeline. 

“We just celebrated 10 years as a company,” says CEO Jim Blome. “And we showed that in 15 months we pioneered a regulatory path, launched a product, and took it all the way from the grower to the food company.”

In 2020, the Calyxt high oleic soybeans were planted on 72,000 acres, which is double the acres planted in 2019. 

Next on the list in the company pipeline is an alfalfa with improved digestibility and a wheat product with high fiber. 

“We are asking the farmer to buy into the whole story. Although the soybean grower knew we were providing value, he needed to join with us to get the seed planted, the acres needed, and delivery to the food company,” Blome says. 

As a change to the current status quo, Blome says the consumer-demand for these attributes in crops will lead to more segregated storage. And while there are challenges to farming any crop, Blome is confident farmers are innovative and adaptive to new opportunities. 

“Farming is an outdoor sport,” he says. “And we see that farmers are looking for ways to decommoditize their product and their business, so they aren’t just growing something at the whim of global supply and commodity markets. Today, farmers are seeking to provide differentiated value.”

Blome says Calyxt has provided guaranteed premiums, which has been an asset for farmers. 

“From the ag lender perspective, they like this idea and a diversified risk profile,” he says. 

Calyxt is hoping to use the success in high-oleic soybeans as a springboard to license its TALEN gene editing platform to partners for other crops. 

“We’ve pivoted away from selling seed directly, and we’ve enhanced our business plan to have other who can expand the scale of our technology to be much bigger,” Blome says. 

And he says the markets for the gene-editing crops are growing, including with food companies and with hemp.