Revolutionizing 'power plants': Making sustainable biotech solutions

Photo by Feggy Art |

Exponentially increasing human population.

Continually declining space on Earth suitable for agricultural use. 

A need to create alternative energies to diminish our reliance on fossil fuels and save the world!

It does not take a highly informed citizen to recognize that these three phrases describe some of the most prominent issues disrupting humanity’s progress on planet Earth. For this reason, Steve Fabijanski, President and CEO of Agrisoma Biosciences Inc. decided it would be promising to build a biotechnology company oriented towards providing long-term sustainable solutions that would hopefully ease all of these crises. 

Having been in the business for over a decade, Agrisoma has represented the push for devising a non-food crop that acts as a source of oil. If successful, such a crop would prevent the Earth’s limited regions of arable land from being utilized inefficiently. The obvious benefit of this initiative is that more arable land cover can be designated as space used to grow food for the (roughly) 7-billion people spread over the globe. Since this number is projected to reach a probable 10.5 billion by 2050, we cannot expect this to be a small obstacle. From the agricultural standpoint: in 2008, it was estimated that the amount of arable land on Earth summed to about 13.8 million km2, while over 48.8 million km2 was classified for “agricultural land use”. The magnitude of how much more efficient we need to be with valuable food-source cropland is startling.

Agrisoma has recently gone underway with commencing field tests across Canada for the biologically modified crop carinata, also known as Ethiopian mustard. Fundamental to the modification of carinata is engineered trait loci (ETL) technology. Very simplistically, ETL allows Fabijanski and his researchers to specifically alter the plant chromosomes of carinata. This has evolved to producing a heat- and drought-tolerant plant, yielding large seed size, while remaining resistant to plant plagues such as blackleg disease, and predatory aphids and flea beetles.

Carinata’s influence on sustainability lies in its tailor-made ability to thrive in semi-arid environments—which typically are not conducive to high-yielding agriculture due to large temperature ranges and minimal precipitation.

To carry a rapidly increasing population, a steady food supply must exist, alongside dependable sources of fuel to provide for our heavily industrialized way of living. As Agrisoma is appealing to farmers to develop carinata while sparing fertile land, biotechnology is proving globally to be a key step in us becoming a more sustainable species.