What have we not seen yet in the field of bioengineering? From fertilizing babies in a laboratory to increasing milk yield and the maturity of chicken. All because humans want results faster, better and in a larger scale.
A new biotechnology is emerging in California, engineered by Sound Agriculture, a startup firm that focuses on providing on-demand crop solutions. Yes, you read it right, on-demand crop solutions.
The company is coming up with a new project involving the breeding of tomatoes on demand using epigenetics. These tomatoes are expected to last longer and have a better flavour than the ordinary farm tomatoes.
Epigenetics refers to a biological process in which environmental changes affect the genetic makeup of organisms. Such environmental effects on genes can be inherited by next generations.
Sound Agriculture is aiming to take advantage of this technology to “create” a tomato that carries the durability of genetically modified crops and the flavor of crops from the farm.
The company announced on Tuesday that it would take the tomato directly to consumers in partnership with grocery distributor S. Katzman Produce.
As part of a pilot program, Sound Agriculture will be delivering its first epigenetic tomato, known as Summer Swell, to grocery stores in New York.
For anyone who is enthusiastic about food, or at least keen to observe the flavors of what they eat, you will realize that tomatoes can either be flavorful and non-durable, or durable and lacking in flavor. Now with Sound Agriculture, you are about to get both attributes in one tomato.
The goal of Sound Agriculture in producing Summer Swell was to get rid of the tradeoff between durability and flavor in tomatoes.
Founded in 2013, Sound Agriculture has raised over $16 million through venture capital and has grown significantly in revenue. The company recorded a 400% growth in revenue in 2022, a great achievement after 10 years of ups and downs.
Based on the epigenetic technology, pieces of a crop’s DNA turns particular genes on and off. Sound Agriculture used this principle to pick some bits of DNA that regulate the cell walls of a tomato. They then mixed this solution with tomato seeds as they started to germinate in order to block the gene expression pathway. The resultant product is the Summer Swell, which preserved both the flavor and the durability of the tomato.
The results of the pilot program on this durable and flavorful tomato will guide the company’s explorations of epigenetics in other types of produce.