Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Cornell start-up is using plants to produce sustainable animal proteins

By Jesse Schwartz
Published: February 1st, 2023

A Cornell University start-up has developed a method to grow commercial animal proteins inside agricultural plants.

“We don’t use animals at all,” says Kathleen Hefferon, co-founder and CEO of Forte Protein.

The start-up produces plant-based animal nutrients and food production ingredients, such as collagen and myoglobins, using its proprietary technology, which introduces the animal protein gene into a plant during a rapid-growth stage. From there, the animal proteins can be grown within days or weeks.

“Our carbon footprint is minimal,” Hefferon explains. “We’re not having to feed any animals and we don’t have animal waste. We are producing animal proteins with very near to zero carbon emissions.”

Forte has joined Cornell’s Center for Life Science Ventures, an incubator that helps start-up founders scale up their business.

“The concept of Forte Protein — this new business — remains absolutely brilliant,” says Lou Walcer, the incubator’s director. “It has potential to be plant-sourced material for use in feedlots, fish farms or commercial food ingredients — all without creating the need for a large amount of land and all without creating methane or carbon dioxide.”

Hefferon adds, “There are a lot of people on the planet who are anemic, so I can see where we can help nutrient-deficient people or provide better access to high quality protein.”

Source: Cornell Chronicle

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