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Specialty Chemicals

RNA production for agriculture draws investors

by Melody M. Bomgardner
June 28, 2020 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 98, ISSUE 25

 

Demand for less-toxic pesticides has drawn investors to firms with the technology to manufacture commercial-scale quantities of RNA. The Boston-based start-up GreenLight Biosciences raised $102 million in a funding round led by Morningside Ventures, agriculture investor S2G Ventures, and others. The company is developing a cell-free biomanufacturing method to make double-stranded RNA, messenger RNA (mRNA), and small-interfering RNA for agriculture and human therapeutic uses. In May, GreenLight raised $17 million to prepare for large-scale manufacturing of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines. Separately, RNAissance Ag has agreed to acquire RNAgri for an undisclosed sum. RNAgri, which is developing methods to produce RNA for agriculture, was a 2018 C&EN Start-Up to Watch. RNAissance Ag is developing RNAi products to control insect pests, based on technology developed at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. RNA-based biopesticides are targeted to kill only specific pest species. They are safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, the companies claim.

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