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AgTech Investments

Greeneye Technology, an Israeli AgTech startup closed a seed funding round of $7 million

Greeneye Technology, a leading AgTech company with a focus in precision agriculture, announced that it closed a seed funding round of $7 million, led by Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) and participation from Syngenta Ventures, 2B Angels, One Way venture, Panache Ventures Techstars, and Hyperplane Venture Capital.

The company is based in Tel-Aviv, Israel and was established in 2017. The founders have been working closely as a team since 2004, after serving together in the Israeli Special Air Force Unit. Greeneye provides an alternative and sustainable solution for the current crop protection practice in order to meet the globally growing demand for food, while increasing the profitability and productivity for farmers.

We are thrilled to have JVP an international leading VC fund and Syngenta as a strategic and industry expert investors to help fuel Greeneye’s growth. Both our investors share with us the understanding that the way farmers spray chemicals in agriculture is about to be massively disrupted to a more efficient and sustainable manner.

Nadav Bocher, Co-Founder and CEO, Greeneye Technology

Greeneye utilizes artificial intelligence and deep learning technology to revolutionize the pest control process in agriculture, transitioning from the current practice of broadcast and wasteful spraying of pesticides to precise spraying in real-time. Greeneye’s proprietary selective spraying (SPP) system turns every sprayer into a smart machine with seamless integration, and saves up to 90% of the chemical cost.

Greeneye’s technology maps an entire field with cameras at a plant level resolution, offering a robust scouting solution for detecting and killing weeds. Currently, farmers worldwide spray their fields uniformly without distinguishing between crops, soil, and weeds.

Read more at PR Newswire

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AgTech Webinar

AgTech Webinar: Innovation and technology in food and farming

Globally we are fast-moving more toward a technologized society as the Covid-19 pandemic has shown in medicine, education and the way we work. Agriculture too is at the forefront of this revolution with a fledgling sector called agtech. Farmers challenged by climate change, labor shortage, water and land supply shortage and the depletion of arable land, have already been steadily turning to innovation and technology such as blockchain, automation and robotics.

Come join a special panel moderated by Amy Wu that will feature women entrepreneurs who are creating solutions to help farmers succeed. The panel and discussion will address questions including achieving a balance between technology and human labor, how innovation can solve food supply chain issues, and the ways technology is creating a potential paradigm shift in agriculture.

Presenters:

Pamela (Pam) Marrone spent her career focused on biologically based products for pest management; for the last 30 years in Davis CA, where she started and led three biological crop protection companies. She started Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 to discover and develop bio-based products for pest management and plant health. The company was listed on NASDAQ in 2013 (MBII), has commercialized 10 products, and is growing rapidly. Pam received the “Sustie” Award from EcoFarm in 2019.

Martha Montoya is CEO and founder of AgTools, which she founded in 2017 as a food supply SaaS platform that provides real-time intelligence to farmers and buyers with the goal of reducing food waste globally. The platform takes into consideration over 75 different market variables from weather to transportation on over 500 different commodities to help growers better plan their crops. The company has 14 employees throughout five offices in the U.S., Mexico and Colombia.

Penelope Nagel is a 9th generation farmer, COO and co-founder of Persistence Data Mining Inc. (PDMI). PDMI is a private company that uses hyperspectral imaging for timely collection of soil data related to spatial variability of soil texture. PDMI has developed algorithms accurately estimating nutrient availability based on hyperspectral data, key to determining where and how much nutrients need to be applied.

Moderator:

Amy Wu is an award-winning writer for the women’s ag and agtech movement. She is the Founder & Chief Content Director of from Farms to Incubators, a multimedia platform that uses documentary, video, photography and the written word to tell the stories of women leaders and innovators in agtech. It has a mission of expanding the profiles of women in food, farming, and tech. The documentary and stories have been screened and presented at SXSW, Techonomy, the Forbes AgTech Summit, EcoFarm and The New Food Economy. Prior to starting From Farms to Incubators, Amy spent over two decades as an investigative reporter at media outfits including the USA Today Network, Time magazine, and she has contributed to The New York Times, HuffPost and Wall Street Journal. She reported on agriculture and agtech for The Salinas Californian in Salinas, Calif. She sits on the Diversity Advisory Committee of EcoFarm.

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Agriculture Policy

Agri-Food Pilot to ensure Food Security in Canada

The Agri-Food Pilot is conceptualised to build resilience in the agriculture sector, which sees thousands of jobs go unfilled each year. It helps address the labour needs of the Canadian agri-food sector. The pilot provides a pathway to permanent residence for experienced, non-seasonal workers in specific industries and occupations. It will run until May 2023.

The three-year pilot is an experiment by definition and that the federal government is open to ways they can improve the program and “ensure that it’s meeting the objective of recognizing those contributions — the value of the work on farms when it comes to food security — by providing a clear way [migrant workers] can establish permanent residency in Canada.”

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino 

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the pilot will accept 2,750 applications annually. Eligible industries and eligible jobs under the pilot are listed below:

  • Meat product manufacturing: Retail butchers, Industrial butchers, Food processing labourers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • Greenhouse, nursery and floriculture production, including mushroom production: General farm workers, Harvesting labourers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers
  • Animal production, excluding aquaculture: General farm workers, Farm supervisors and specialized livestock workers

Foreign workers fill an important role in the Canadian agriculture sector, where 59,000 positions went unfilled last year, according to a study from the Senate committee on agriculture and forestry. The report found that the number of unfilled positions could hit 114,000 by 2025.

Read more at iPolitics

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AgTech FoodTech

Attractive opportunities in Artificial Intelligence in Agriculture Market

Agriculture and farming is one of the oldest and most important professions in the world. Humanity has come a long way over the millennia in how we farm and grow crops with the introduction of various technologies. By 2050, the planet’s population is likely to rise to 9.7 billion, a rise of 2 billion from now. Along with increase in population, there is a substantial increase in the lifestyle. Those people will not only need to eat, they will want to eat better than people do now, because of higher incomes. However, only 4% additional land will come under cultivation by then.

In this context, use of latest technological solutions to make farming more efficient, remains one of the greatest imperatives. Farming is becoming a branch of matrix algebra. Farm operations involve a set of variables, such as the weather, soil’s moisture levels and nutrient content, competition to crops from weeds, threats to their health from pests and diseases, and the costs of taking action to deal with these things. If the algebra is done correctly, the yield gets optimised resulting in maximization of profit.

Agriculture is seeing rapid adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) both in terms of agricultural products and in-field farming techniques. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) sees a lot of direct application across sectors, it can also bring a paradigm shift in how we see farming today. The industry is turning to AI technologies to help yield healthier crops, control pests, monitor soil and growing conditions, organize data for farmers, help with workload, and improve a wide range of agriculture-related tasks in the entire food supply chain.

The overall AI in agriculture market is projected to grow from an estimated USD 1.0 billion in 2020 to USD 4.0 billion by 2026, at a CAGR of 25.5% between 2020 and 2026. The market growth is propelled by the increasing implementation of data generation through sensors and aerial images for crops, increasing crop productivity through deep-learning technology, and government support for the adoption of modern agricultural techniques.

Markets and Markets

Recent Developments in AI in Agriculture include:

  1. South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry. Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.
  2. Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services. Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.
  3. Yanmar R&D Europe, with its European research facility based in Florence, Italy, focuses on a variety of field-based studies to bring added value to the agriculture industry. This include the two-year, four-million Euros ‘SMASH’ (Smart Machine for Agricultural Solutions Hightech) project being carried out in cooperation with 10 technology partners to develop a mobile agricultural ‘eco-system’ to monitor, analyse and manage agricultural crops.

Some of the companies active in AI in agriculture includes International Business Machines Corp., Deere & Company, Microsoft Corporation, Farmers Edge Inc., The Climate Corporation, Descartes Labs, Inc., AgEagle Aerial Systems, aWhere Inc., Gamaya Inc., Precision Hawk Inc., Granular, Inc., Prospera Technologies, Cainthus Corporation, Taranis, Resson Inc., FarmBot Inc., Connecterra B.V., Vision Robotics Corporation, Harvest Croo, LLC, Autonomous Tractor Corporation, Trace Genomics, Inc., VineView, CropX Inc., Tule Technologies Inc., Blue River technology, FarmBot and PEAT GmbH .

Categories
AgTech Investments

South African agri-tech startup Aerobotics raised US$5.5 million in funding from Naspers Foundry

Cape Town-based Aerobotics, uses aerial imagery from drones and satellites, and blends them with machine learning algorithms. This helps in early problem detection and offer personalised solutions to tree and wine farmers and optimise crop performance. The startup’s cloud-based application Aeroview provides farmers with insights, scout mapping and other tools to mitigate damage to tree and vine crops from pest and disease.

Food security was of paramount importance, and the Aerobotics platform provided a positive contribution towards helping to sustain it. This importance has been highlighted further in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with agriculture considered globally as critical infrastructure

Phuthi Mahanyele-Dabengwa, South Africa CEO at Naspers

Aerobotics uses drone flights to track tree health and size, using multispectral, high resolution drone imagery. This helps in identification of areas needing attention by a real time comparison with historical satellite health data, and make data driven decisions on the farm, using AI-based analytics platform. Aerobotics provide tools to make actionable decisions on the farm for

  • Orchard Management
  • Problem Tree Identification
  • Pest and Disease Management
  • Yield Management

Aerobotics has demonstrated success in the ability to collect and analyse tree and fruit-level information, which are critical to the agricultural industry. The services are very relevant to commercial-scale farmers and crop insurance companies who require accurate tree-level information about their clients.

Read more at Disrupt Africa.

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AgTech Investments

Insurance Australia Group has bought a multimillion-dollar stake in Digital Agriculture Services

Insurance Australia Group Limited (IAG) is the largest general insurance company in Australia and New Zealand. The Group’s businesses underwrite almost $12 billion of premium per annum, selling insurance under many leading brands. IAG, Australia’s largest general insurer, made the investment in Digital Agriculture Services (DAS) through its $75 million venture capital fund Firemark Ventures.

In April, Firemark Ventures also bought a stake in US start-up Arturo, which applies similar methods as those used by DAS – aerial imaging, AI, data analytics – to an urban setting, assessing risks to individual residential and commercial properties.

Digital Agriculture Services is a rural technology company based in Melbourne. The company was established in partnership with CSIRO, Australia’s national science and research agency, in 2017, with a mission to deliver reliable rural intelligence. The company is applying machine learning and AI to develop rural data-powered solutions that transform the way rural assets are assessed, valued and monitored.

Despite the importance of food and agriculture to our economy, rural data is patchy and fragmented; inaccessible or unintelligible; or simply not connected in a way that’s useful. Every day, business, policy makers and farmers are making decisions without reliable rural data or analytics. This lack of data not only means billions in decisions are being based on inaccurate, unreliable or incomplete data – it means agriculture’s risk profile is far higher than it should be.

Problem statement – DAS

DAS’ founders believe that by providing the most reliable rural intelligence possible, we can give today’s decision makers the data they need to make more informed decisions. Decisions that build competitive advantage, wealth and prosperity for all.

Read more at Financial Review

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Food Loss/Waste

10 most commonly produced products out of food waste

The idea of extracting valuable ingredients from waste products and processing by-products is not a new one but new extraction technologies and increasing demand for natural ingredients could open up new avenues for extracting value-added ingredients. Now-a-days, food wastes are considered as a cheap source of valuable components. Exploitation of the entire plant tissue could have economic benefits to producers.

As more legal requirements are implemented, the food industry will be increasingly obligated to prevent waste. The French penalty system (which fines supermarkets for wastage) and Italian incentive system (which rewards them for donating surplus food) actively encourages waste prevention. Similarly, National Environment Agency, Singapore, launched a S$1.76 million food waste fund. The fund aims to help organisations subsidise the cost of installing food waste treatments solutions.

Let’s have a look at 10 most commonly produced products out of food waste:

  1. Juices

A carrot may have two legs, an apple might be dimpled, a cucumber might be slightly discolored — all of this leads to ‘rejectsʼin the food system. Approximately, one-third of a farmerʼs total harvest is lost due to the aesthetic standards of retailers. Contrary to popular perception, these rejected fruits and vegetables (based on aesthetic standards) are as fresh and delicious as their perfect counterparts. By sourcing these misfit fruits and vegetables, companies are developing sustainable juice and beverage production business.

  1. Fruit flour from seed, skin and pomace of fruits

Gluten-free foods could benefit from highly fibrous fruit flours developed from the by-product of juice and cider production. These by-product flours are high in dietary fibre and have high antioxidant properties. Eg. for the gluten-free bread, rice flour and potato starch is blended with the fruit flour and for extruded snacks fruit flour is mixed with maize flour. The blending is done to balance the taste impacts as well as provide key structural requirements needed for gluten-free bakery and snacks products

  1. Antimicrobial and Antioxidant foods
  • Cranberry pomace, a by-product of the juicing process, may be extruded to produce a range of polyphenol-rich ingredients for use in supplements or functional foods. The resulting product could be incorporated into a dietary supplement or explored as a functional snack food. Cranberry has long been considered an effective method of fighting urinary tract infections
  • Antimicrobial and antioxidant potential of ethanolic extract of mango seeds can be used to enhance the shelf life and to increase the antioxidant capacity of fresh-cut mango
  • Phenolic extracts from olive oil mill waste can be used as alternatives to synthetic antioxidants in order to increase the stability of foods. Disposal of olive oil mill waste causes serious environmental problems, as many of its constituents are not easily degradable
  • Onion wastes are an interesting source of phytochemicals, sulphurous compounds and natural antioxidants. Brown skin shows a high concentration of quercetin, aglycone and calcium. Outer scales could be used as source of flavonols, with good antioxidant activity and dietary fibre content 
  • Antioxidant waste from the soy industry could offer a cheap and healthy alternative to synthetic antioxidants that prolong the shelf life of food. The appreciable concentrations of flavonoids, along with phenolic acids and other antioxidant phytochemicals present in soybean might be responsible for their free radical-scavenging activity
  • Industrial by-products from tomato processing contain a significant amount of bioactive compounds that could be used to provide natural and sustainable source of antioxidants for functional food formulation, or to act as preservative ingredients in foods
  • Similar to wine and grape juice, which are known to contain natural antioxidants, up to 50% remain in the waste material left behind when the skins, stems and seeds are filtered
  1. Pectin
  • Each ton of dry cocoa bean produces ten tonnes of cocoa pod husk waste. An average of 10 grams of pectin could be extracted from every 100 grams of husk by-product. This way for each ton of dry cocoa bean production, one tonne of pectin could be extracted from the husk waste. Extraction of pectins from the main by-product of cocoa production would not only help to reduce the costs of the production of cocoa products but would also manage the disposal of this waste in an environmental friendly manner through the use of a natural and safe food additive
  • Waste orange peel is an excellent example of a wasted resource. By volume, half the orange fruit is left as waste once the juice has been recovered. Use of technology could allow the generation of valuable food ingredients like pectin on large scale. The ‘greenʼ approach could help dispose of waste products whilst also turning a profit.
  • Potato pulp is an underutilized material produced in large quantities by potato starch factories. Potato waste could provide ‘new generation’ of food ingredients like pectin. Extraction method promises large-scale extraction of potato fibres rich in pectin and functional hydrocolloids.
  1. Enzymes
  • Through solid state fermentation, it is possible to develop a multi-enzyme solution rich in glucoamylase and protease from waste bread. In the last two decades, solid state fermentation has attracted interest in western countries due to its advantages in the production of secondary metabolites, and production of novel foods. 
  • Waste from pineapple processing could provide a range of value added ingredients for the food industry, including a new source of the enzyme bromelain. Bromelain is an enzyme that is usually extracted from the stems or juice of pineapples. It has been used commercially in the food industry, dietary supplements, and the cosmetics industry – where it is known for meat tenderising, brewing, baking, and for the production of protein hydrolysates, among other things. Waste portions provides a significant yield of the enzyme with peel supplying between 29 and 40% by weight.
  1. High protein High fiber flour
  • Dried distillers grain, produced during ethanol processing has until now only found use in animal feed. The flour produced is a high protein, high fibre (36% protein and 40% fibre) ingredient that could be used as a substitute flour in a number of food applications
  • Peanut meal is the defatted, low-value, byproduct of commercial peanut oil production. Advances in enzyme technologies, coupled with new technologies to remove aflatoxin, may offer a way to produce the by-product meal, which is an excellent source of protein (containing between 45–55%).
  • Mushroom waste can boost fibre and lower glycaemic response in extruded snacks. Stalks and basal clumps retrieved from spent mushroom compost can be refined as a freeze dried powder called mushroom co-product material (MCM). The inclusion of MCM significantly increase the amount of total dietary fibre (TDF) in the extruded snacks
  1. Textiles

Forget about cotton, we could be making textiles from banana, pineapple and coconut.

  • Banana fibre: The fabric is claimed to be nearly carbon neutral and have soft texture. The material is having application in making jackets, skirts and trousers.
  • Pineapple fibre: It is used as an alternative to petroleum-based textiles. The greatest thing is that itʼs made of leaf fibres, a byproduct of the pineapple harvest. The industrial process used to produce pineapple fibre also produces biomass, which can be converted into a bio-fertiliser  and the fibre is also biodegradable.
  • Coconut fibre: A thousand coconuts can produce 10 kg of fibre. A blend of fibre with polyester is particularly good choice for sportswear
  1. Fuel and Fertilizer
  • Organic waste from companies food processing plant can be converted into a renewable natural gas. Organic waste from the plant is converted into biogas through Anaerobic Digestion process. The biogas is then purified to become renewable natural gas which can be used in the same was as conventional natural gas. The renewable natural gas displaces conventional natural gas which is used to support the energy needs of the plant operation. 
  • In addition, a high-quality fertilizer is produced as a byproduct which in turn is used to support healthy growth of local vegetation.
  1.  Molds

The designer custom-made molds with a mixture of agricultural byproducts and mushroom mycelium, can result in lightweight, biodegradable lamp shades. Mycelium is introduced into a mixture of chopped up corn stalks and seed husks, and begins to spread its white fibers and digest it. Once coated in mycelium, the mixture is broken up into particles, which can easily be packed into molds, and left to grow for a few days until it forms a completely solid structure

  1. Fats

Seed waste may be source of new fats. Fat from seed kernel ‘waste productsʼ could provide the food industry with a new source of edible oils. Eg. rambutan seed kernels provide a considerable yield of fat with high arachidonic acid content and that makes the fat highly stable to oxidation. Because of these physical and chemical characteristics, rambutan kernel fat is perfectly suited for the cosmetic and food industries. The increasing demand for oils and fats, whether for human consumption or for industrial purposes, necessitates the search for new sources of novel oils and fats. Fat extraction from seed waste could be as high as 37% by weight.

Categories
AgTech Biotech

Mycocycle, Inc. selected as finalist in the Best World Changing Idea NA, Experimental, and General Excellence categories

The winners of Fast Company’s 2020 World Changing Ideas Awards were announced on April 28, 2020, honoring the businesses, policies, projects, and concepts that are actively engaged and deeply committed to flattening the curve when it comes to the climate crisis, social injustice, or economic inequality.

Mycocycle, Inc.: Converting Waste Streams into Value Streams has been selected as a finalist in the Best World Changing Idea NA, Experimental, and General Excellence categories.

Now in its fourth year, the World Changing Ideas Awards showcase 26 winners, more than 200 finalists, and more than 500 honorable mentions—with Health and Wellness, Corporate Social Responsibility, and AI and Data among the most popular categories. A panel of eminent judges selected winners and finalists from a pool of more than 3,000 entries across transportation, education, food, politics, technology, and more. The 2020 awards feature entries from across the globe, from Vancouver to Singapore to Tel Aviv.

Illustrating how some of the world’s most inventive entrepreneurs and companies are addressing grave global challenges, Fast Company’s May/June issue celebrates, among others, an electric engine for airplanes that eliminates emissions from flights—and expensive fuel from the tricky financial calculus of the airline industry; a solar-powered refrigerator that finally frees people in remote villages from daily treks to distant markets, transforming the economics of those households; an online marketplace that connects food companies with farms to buy ugly and surplus produce to fight waste; and an initiative to offset all of the carbon costs of shipping, creating a new model for e-commerce sustainability.

“I am honored and stunned to have Mycocycle recognized in one category, let alone three,” says Joanne Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mycocycle. “We have been working hard to shift the narrative on viewing trash as a resource to drive a more circular solution to waste management. Our ‘mushroom’ tech mimics nature’s processes in a controlled environment to do just that. If we don’t drive innovation in this field, we will continue to face a growing issue that is harmful to environments worldwide.”

Joanne Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mycocycle

“There seems no better time to recognize organizations that are using their ingenuity, resources, and, in some cases, their scale to tackle society’s biggest problems,” says Stephanie Mehta, editor-in chief of Fast Company. “Our journalists, under the leadership of senior editor Morgan Clendaniel, have uncovered some of the smartest and most inspiring projects of the year.”

About the World Changing Ideas Awards: World Changing Ideas is one of Fast Company’s major annual awards programs and is focused on social good, seeking to elevate finished products and brave concepts that make the world better. A panel of judges from across sectors choose winners, finalists, and honorable mentions based on feasibility and the potential for impact. With a goal of awarding ingenuity and fostering innovation, Fast Company draws attention to ideas with great potential and helps them expand their reach to inspire more people to start working on solving the problems that affect us all.

For more information about the company, please contact: Joanne Rodriguez, joanne@mycocycle.com, Founder/CEO, Mycocycle, LLC

Categories
AgTech FoodTech

Singapore Food Bowl aims to help regional agri-food tech startups

GROW’s Singapore Food Bowl program aims to help regional agri-food tech startups fast track their growth trajectory and commercialise novel technologies specifically relevant to Singapore’s food security agenda. The 12-week virtual accelerator allows for the local ecosystem to make a change together, by forming a cohort of local and regional startups to address the challenges and opportunities in food security and supply chain highlighted by the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Singapore Food Bowl is targeting startups focused on technologies to accelerate & improve the production of Proteins (animal & alternative) and Leafy greens (controlled environment agriculture) as well as solutions that address Food Waste, Sustainable Packaging and Digital Supply Chains.

If you’re developing technologies that can materially improve productivity in the areas aligned with Singapore’s 30×30 food pillars, namely protein production and leafy greens,

Startups incorporated in Singapore or based in Asia-Pacific and having a minimum viable product (Pre-Seed to Seed stage in terms of funding) are eligible to apply for the accelerator program. Applications for the program can be filled by up to 7th of June.

Read more at Grow

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AgTech Biotech

Precision injection system for plants

Oranges, olives, and bananas are already under threat in many areas due to diseases that affect plants’ circulatory systems and that cannot be treated by applying pesticides. A new method developed by engineers at MIT may offer a starting point for delivering life-saving treatments to plants ravaged by such diseases. The method uses an array of microneedles made of a silk-based biomaterial to deliver nutrients, drugs, or other molecules to specific parts of the plant. The work started in response to a request from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for ideas on how to address the citrus greening crisis, which is threatening the collapse of a $9 billion industry.

The microneedles designed for human use were intended to biodegrade naturally in the body’s moisture, but plants have far less available water, so the material didn’t dissolve and was not useful for delivering the pesticide or other macromolecules into the phloem. The researchers had to design a new material, but they decided to stick with silk as its basis. That’s because of silk’s strength, its inertness in plants (preventing undesirable side effects), and the fact that it degrades into tiny particles that don’t risk clogging the plant’s internal vasculature systems.

The technology has potential to be used to bioengineer disease-resistant varieties of important crops. In experiments with tobacco the researchers were able to inject Agrobacterium to alter the plant’s deoxyribonucleic acid – a typical bioengineering tool, but delivered in a new and precise way.

Read more at MIT News