PhotoSeed Breakthrough Delivers Higher Energy Corn

San Diego, CA, March 19, 2024ZeaKal today announced the successful development of its groundbreaking PhotoSeed™ technology in corn, improving the crop’s oil and sustainability profile without compromising yield or protein. With the immediate implementation of PhotoSeed corn’s route to market, ZeaKal aims to redefine the value proposition of this vital crop for growers, industry, and consumers alike.

In first year replicated field trials, PhotoSeed increased corn oil composition by an average of 23 percent. PhotoSeed enhances a plant’s photosynthetic capacity, capturing more CO2 and sunlight. This additional carbon capture increases oil production without taking away the energy necessary to maintain modern yields. Despite tremendous demand, previous efforts to boost oil content without compromising yield have eluded agribusinesses. ZeaKal now introduces the first viable solution.

ZeaKal’s PhotoSeed hybrid corn, grown in collaboration with the Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center in a glasshouse setting.

Han Chen, co-founder and CEO of ZeaKal, emphasized the imperative for accelerated innovation to meet the escalating demand for sustainable corn oil production. “This trait technology allows us to elevate the overall value of U.S. corn and creates a differentiated, value-added product that addresses industry demand,” said Chen. “U.S. farmers need innovation faster if we hope to compete in a challenging global commodity market. While we cannot change sunlight availability and geography for our growers, we can bring a latitude advantage to them through genetics.”

Corn, occupying 90 million acres in the United States and ranking among the most crucial crops globally, serves as a cornerstone for food, feed, and fuel feedstocks. The FAO forecasts a 70% surge in global demand for sustainable food and feed, and other projections indicate that renewables will constitute 43% of total energy within a decade. Together, this underscores the urgency for plant-based energy, which offers inherent benefits for aviation fuel and renewable diesel that other innovations cannot offer.

Expanded Gro Alliance Partnership Accelerates Farmers’ Access to PhotoSeed Corn Hybrids

In 2022, ZeaKal set a path to restore value across the soy supply chain by creating a closed loop U.S. system to capture and share premiums from better composition, processing advantages, and improved sustainability metrics with farmers and producers – called the NewType model. PhotoSeed corn follows the model’s success starting with integration into Gro Alliance’s extensive germplasm collection, breeding program, and fully integrated seed production.

“For too long, extended periods of depressed commodity prices coupled with rising input costs have magnified risk for U.S. farmers. With ZeaKal’s breakthrough technology and our expanded capacity and partnerships, we are setting our sight on the better seed for the entire value chain; farmers, seed companies and end-users,” said Jim Schweigert, president of Gro Alliance, which recently expanded its germplasm pool and secured a partnership with an advanced sorting technology company.

Just as in soybeans, nutrient and energy densification in PhotoSeed corn translates to more carbon captured in the seed. With higher oil production that does not require additional inputs or land, PhotoSeed becomes a sustainability embedded trait that has the potential to lower the carbon intensity score of the crop.

“The future of agriculture must be grounded in innovation that democratizes value creation or else agriculture will not be responsive to demands for improved sustainability, nutrition, and energy,” said Chen. “Starting with the grower, our vision is to leverage trait technology and replicate our NewType model to ensure value creation and sharing across the entire supply chain.”

PhotoSeed corn commercialization is expected in the 2027 growing season. For more information about ZeaKal and PhotoSeed technology, or to become part of the NewType model, visit zeakal.com.

Audio download link:
Interview with Zeakal CEO Han Chen 10:55

Link to hi-res photoZeaKal’s PhotoSeed hybrid corn, grown in collaboration with the Wisconsin Crop Innovation Center in a glasshouse setting.

About ZeaKal

At ZeaKal, we are building a value driven “NewType” of agriculture to harmonize the needs of farmers, consumers, and our planet. Our flagship plant trait technology, PhotoSeed™, helps crops capture more carbon and sunlight, leading to healthier, nutrient-rich food and feed grown on a smaller environmental footprint. We go beyond science to make affordable nutrition more sustainable, with marketable differentiation for growers. Discover how we are transforming carbon to nutrition: zeakal.com or @zeakal on Twitter.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Goldston
AgTech PR for ZeaKal

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