May 5, 2016


Intrexon establishes crop protection enterprise



Intrexon Corporation, a leader in synthetic biology, has announced the formation of Intrexon Crop Protection (ICP), a wholly-owned subsidiary dedicated to the biological control of agricultural pests and diseases, including insects and fungi. 


Through the utilisation of two proprietary technologies within Intrexon's platform, ICP's approach will precisely target single pest species avoiding the off-target effects of conventional pesticide applications on the broader ecosystem.


Randal J. Kirk, Intrexon's chairman and CEO stated: "Considering the robustness of our engineered biological crop protection solutions pipeline, the interest received in each of our two contributing platforms, the scarcity of other workable new technologies, the ongoing consolidation of mature companies in the sector, the increasing reliance by food growers on a decreasingly effective set of marketed solutions, the enormous size of the available markets for better crop protection solutions and the efficiencies that we believe will be realised by marshalling development of the resultant products under one enterprise management team, I am pleased to announce this milestone event in our company's history."


"The newly formed Intrexon Crop Protection subsidiary will utilise Intrexon's platforms to help protect growers' crops through biological control of agricultural pests, highlighted by a fully differentiated self-limiting insect platform and a proprietary approach for the expression of nucleic acids and peptides," said Corey Huck, SVP and head of Intrexon's Food Sector. "The protection of harvests is critical given population growth and the declining efficiency of traditional practices."


Each year, as much as 16% of global crop production is lost to damages from agricultural pests and diseases, and industry reports estimate that the insecticide and fungicide markets will reach a combined US$40 billion by 2019. 


Rising resistance to various approaches including chemical pesticides as well as genetically modified crops is creating additional challenges for the industry, according to Intrexon. 


Furthermore, several useful chemical pesticides have been, or are being, phased out due to concerns about their negative impact on human health, livestock, and the environment.


ICP is centered on cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to improve agricultural productivity in an environmentally friendly manner, driving value for growers and consumers alike.  To this end, ICP will employ Oxitec's diverse self-limiting gene platform for insect control as well as the ActoBiotics® Lactococcus lactis system for the expression of targeted biologicals to develop species-specific agricultural pest and disease management programmes.


ICP's pipeline of insect and fungal control programmes will offer protection in both large acre row crops and high value specialty crops such as fruits and vegetables.  These solutions are in various stages of development including ongoing as well as successfully completed field trials.


According to a BioMed Central Biology publication, ICP's self-limiting platform was successful in rapidly suppressing the diamondback moth population and could offer an effective, versatile control option against this and other agricultural pests.


Sekhar Boddupalli, Intrexon's current vice president (Food and Nutrition), will serve as president of the new company from ICP's Davis, California facility in the US. 


With over 20 years of experience in biotechnology, consumer products, and drug discovery, Boddupalli is a leader with strategic vision and entrepreneurial skills that will be instrumental in his new role.


Also joining ICP will be Simon Warner, Oxitec's current chief science officer who will oversee research on self-limiting insects for both companies.


- Intrexon Corporation

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