- By Lynda Kiernan-Stone, Global AgInvesting Media
Shell, S&W Seed JV to Develop Novel Plant Genetics for Oilseed Cover Crops
Global agricultural company S&W Seed Co. and Equilon Enterprises (Shell) announced their agreement to establish a joint venture for the development of novel plant genetics for oilseed cover crops to be used as feedstocks for biofuel production.
Under the name Vision Bioenergy Oilseeds LLC, the joint venture, which will be jointly owned by Shell and S&W Seed, plans to develop Camelina and other oilseed species in order to process the resulting oil and meal into animal feed, biofuels, and other byproducts.
"We are pleased to be entering this JV with Shell,” said Mark Wong, CEO of S&W Seed Company, “...which leverages our seed and technology capabilities with Camelina and demonstrates how agriculture and energy can work together to lower carbon emissions by producing domestically sourced sustainable biofuel feedstocks.”
Founded in 1980 in Longmont, Colorado, S&W Seed is a proprietary seed company supplying a range of forage and specialty crop products including alfalfa, sorghum, and pasture seeds to meet the growing global demand for animal proteins and healthier diets. S&W also leverages its R&D and breeding expertise to develop and produce the all-natural, zero-calorie alternative sweetener, stevia.
S&W will contribute this expertise in seed research, technology, production, and processing to the joint venture, including access to its seed processing and research facilities in Nampa, Idaho.
Camelina, the initial crop-of-focus for this venture, has grown to be known as a scalable and commercially viable oilseed with the added potential to be a sustainable feedstock to help drive the energy transition.
It also is a low-greenhouse gas emitting cover crop in the U.S., where it is gaining traction and being planted between main crop growing seasons without influencing the price or availability of crops being grown for food and feed.
When grown effectively, Camelina has the potential to provide farmers with an additional income stream while generating social and environmental co-benefits both below ground and above ground, according to the USDA.
Additionally, biofuels made from Camelina oil are an effective means of decarbonizing hard-to-abate, energy-dense sectors such as aviation, marine, and heavy-duty road transport. These combined benefits are positioning Camelina as a targeted oilseed cover crop for research and advancement.
Another joint agreement was announced in August 2022 between Sustainable Oils, a wholly owned subsidiary of Global Clean Energy Holdings, Corteva Agriscience, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, for CRISPR Cas9 and other gene editing tools to further develop their patented Camelina varieties.
“We are excited to add CRISPR-Cas9 technology to accelerate our camelina breeding practices,” said Dr. Jerry Feitelson, chief scientific officer, Sustainable Oils, in August 2022.
“Using this powerful plant breeding innovation, we expect to further expand our IP portfolio of advanced Camelina varieties, which is already the largest in the world. Through state-of- the-art breeding methods, optimal agronomic advances, and large-scale logistics we hope to drive the carbon intensity of our finished fuels close to or below zero.”
~ Lynda Kiernan-Stone is editor in chief with GAI Media, and is managing editor and daily contributor for Global AgInvesting’s AgInvesting Weekly News and Agtech Intel News, as well as HighQuest Group’s Unconventional Ag. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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