Confined in-field trial production of bioengineered barley

In May of this year ORF Genetics hf. sowed out bioengineered barley for experimental in-field cultivation at the site of The Soil Conservation Service of Iceland (SCSI) at Gunnarsholt in southern part of Iceland. The in-field cultivation trial at Gunnarsholt is being conducted in cooperation with SCSI and the Agricultural University of Iceland and in accordance with a permit by the Environment Agency of Iceland.

This trial cultivation is partially funded by the Icelandic National Technology Fund and is also a part of a project “Barley Biofarmed Growth Factors to Make Cell Cultured Meat an Affordable Reality”, awarded by the EU Horizon 2020 funding program. The aim of the project is to develop a new product line, MESOkine® animal-like growth factors, develop new production methods, scale-up its production, and lower its production cost. The MESOkine® growth factors are essential for use as a production-aid in production of cell cultured meat (CCM), a production technology being developed by over 60 companies in the world at present.

The main purpose of the in-field cultivation trial is to verify the feasibility of growing bioengineered barley in Iceland for molecular farming as well as to compare the crop characteristics of the selected barley cultivars and offspring, in particular with regards to accumulation of target protein in the seeds.

The results will be compared with corresponding cultivations in ORFs greenhouse as well as in-field-trials in Canada where ORF has been conducting in-field trials since 2013 with favourable results. The barley is not used for food or feed but for the purpose of molecular farming.