The future lies in our farmlands — as the fossil fuels industry fades, crops like camelina, a flowering seed oil plant from the Meditteranean region, may serve as a source of plant-based sustainable airline fuels, feedstock for making bioplastics and nutritional oils. We welcome back Dr. Oliver Peoples, president and CEO of Yield10 Bioscience, to discuss the company’s progress in engineering camelina to produce more oil for a variety of uses. Since he last talked with us two years ago, Yield10 has announced agreements with Mitsubishi Corporation and American Airlines to develop biofuels and progress on developing camelina strains that are more efficient and herbicide-resistant. During the Fall of 2022, farmers in the US and Canada planted Yield10-engineered camelina as a winter crop for the first time.
Genetic engineering remains a controversial subject, and introducing herbicide-resistant strains of camelina could encourage the use of more soil-harming weed control chemicals. Oliver is an evangelist for regenerative agricultural practices, which typically discourage using chemical inputs like herbicides. We discuss how no-till cover crops like camelina can provide additional income for farmers and encourage the restoration of complex root structures and biomes in the soil, offering new choices to farmers and consumers. He argues that contemporary genetic engineering uses vastly greater volumes of data to pre-check the impact of a gene mutation on a plant, the environment, and people before actually making the modification a reality. You can learn more about Yield10 at yield10bio.com.