February 3, 2023
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Ceres corn traits do not require USDA oversight


Thousand Oaks ag-biotech company Ceres said the U.S. Department of Agriculture told the company Feb. 17 that several corn traits Ceres developed do not need to be regulated under a USDA mandate.

For years, Ceres developed genetically modified crops for use in biofuels. Last June, the company switched its focus to developing genetically modified crops for use in food and agriculture. The USDA regulates genetically modified crops under the Plant Protection Act of 2000.

With the exception of 2003, 2005 and 2006, Ceres has not generated a profit since its creation in 1996. As of Aug. 31, 2015, the company had lost $332.1 million in its history. Over the past several years, Ceres cut its staff from 96 to 44.

The company relished the news and said the development will allow it to bring products with the traits to market faster.

“We appreciate the USDA’s diligence in reviewing our inquiry. In this case, the USDA determined that there was no scientific reason to warrant their oversight under current regulations,” said Ceres CEO Richard Hamilton in a news release.

The development was Ceres’ second major development in recent weeks. On Jan. 22, the company was awarded an Australian patent for a trait that allows growers to increase yields without increasing crop inputs like fertilizer.

The patent extends intellectual property protection to the Australian market of a key gene that Ceres has licensed to a multinational crop developer. The patent covers uses of the gene in crops such as corn, soybeans and wheat among others. Ceres plans to offer seed companies a license to that technology in crops not already licensed.

• Contact Philip Joens at pjoens@pacbiztimes.com.