Agritech start-up may have solution to ‘better GMOs’


Genetic modification in agriculture is oftentimes regarded with fear since its many ramifications are unknown — the long-term effects of genetic change on the plants, how they might affect the human body and the effect of genetic modification on the fruit of an entire species if, and when, the modifications become part of its genome.

Now, Israeli biotech company Morflora may have a solution that keeps everybody happy. Based on the discovery of the gene implantation system by Prof. Ilan Sela of the Hebrew University’s Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the company has developed a non-transgenic method for delivering genes to plants. While the genes can modify a plant in order to improve characteristics such as resistance and tolerance, they do not become part of the plant’s genome, meaning that they cannot be inherited by the next generation of plants.

The TraitUP system was jointly developed by Prof. Sela and Smith Faculty colleague Prof. Haim D. Rabinowitch and its patent is jointly owned by Morflora and Yissum, the Hebrew University’s technology transfer company. Morflora, a recent finalist in the prestigious Red Herring Europe 2012 Top 100 award for best technologies, holds an exclusive license to commercialize the technology.

For full article in The Times of Israel, click here