Unlocking genetic power of plants a focus at upcoming biotech summit

Sept. 20, 2018

This paid piece is sponsored by South Dakota Biotech.

Empowering the food and ag community to harness the natural genetic power of plants is the mission of a St. Louis company that will be highlighted at the 2018 South Dakota Biotech Breakthrough Summit.

Mike Thompson, vice president of partner development at Benson Hill Biosystems Inc., will deliver a keynote speech at the luncheon Oct. 4.

To learn more about the summit and to register, click here.

We spoke with Thompson for a preview of his insight into this fascinating field.

For those who aren’t familiar with Benson Hill Biosystems, what are some of the key areas the company addresses?

Benson Hill empowers innovators with a revolutionary crop-design platform to develop healthier and more sustainable crops. Our CropOS platform combines machine learning and big data with genome editing and plant biology to drastically accelerate and simplify the product-development process. More information can be found online at bensonhillbio.com. Follow us on Twitter at @BensonHillBio.

Agriculture is South Dakota’s leading industry. Do you have existing relationships here, and what opportunity do you see for the state’s ag community to further move in the direction that your organization is pioneering?

We have no existing relationships in South Dakota but lots of potential. With our data-driven approach to crop improvement, we have significant potential to impact the next wave of productivity gains across food and agriculture. The broad applicability of Benson Hill’s technology platform creates new opportunities for farmers and the food production industry in South Dakota and at large.

Benson Hill reports that more than 99 percent of calories consumed globally are derived from less than 1 percent of the natural genetic diversity of plants. How do we go about harnessing more of that? 

Developing foods that are nourishing to our bodies, responsible to our planet and that taste great is not a trade-off — it’s an opportunity. By combining biology with machine intelligence, our platform provides a novel approach to crop improvement. Further advancement of CropOS will expand our understanding and utilization of a broader scope of species and accelerate product-development capacity to deliver a portfolio with more improved crops for companies across the food and agriculture value chain.

How can or is Benson Hill Biosystems collaborating with others in the biotech industry? Is there opportunity to do more with South Dakota organizations?

We have many customers licensing various levels of access to our platform, including a pipeline of biotech-trait candidates, genome-editing enzymes and software that facilitates the use of genomic selection and decision support for breeding programs. I’m excited to make many productive connections at this upcoming meeting that I’m hopeful will result in formal relationships between Benson Hill and members of the ag and food industries in South Dakota.

Is there a role for general consumers in what Benson Hill does? How can they learn more?

Consumer demand for healthier and more sustainable-food choices creates opportunity across many crops and ingredients, and plant genomics is a proven lever that has been severely underutilized in most crops. Benson Hill delivers the full suite of solutions a company needs to create differentiated products and capture this growing consumer-driven market, whether they are a seed company, food manufacturer or food retailer.

To learn more about the South Dakota Biotech Breakthrough Summit and to register, click here.

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Unlocking genetic power of plants a focus at upcoming biotech summit

This global company is empowering the food and ag community to harness the natural genetic power of plants. Learn more about Benson Hill Biosystems at the Oct. 4 Breakthrough Summit from South Dakota Biotech.

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