Seed World

Calyxt and S&W Seed Company Reach Milestone in Alfalfa Seed Development Program


Calyxt, Inc., a consumer-centric, food- and agriculture-focused company, and S&W Seed Company, a global leader in the alfalfa seed industry, announced the successful transfer of their proprietary alfalfa seed and plants from the research and development facility at Calyxt to S&W for field evaluation and testing. This marks a significant milestone in the collaboration between the two companies.

In 2015, Calyxt and S&W Seed Company embarked on a collaboration to research, develop, produce and commercialize alfalfa seed products involving Calyxt’s proprietary gene editing technology, TALEN, and S&W’s industry-leading alfalfa seed genetics. The collaboration between Calyxt and S&W is focused on providing enhanced traits in alfalfa that can drive improved productivity, while decreasing input costs to meet the growing global demand for improved quality alfalfa seeds.

The affirmation of the strategy to utilize Calyxt’s proprietary gene editing technology as a way to develop non-regulated varieties occurred in October 2017 when the first alfalfa targeted mutations had been designated as a non-regulated article under the “Am I Regulated?” process by the Biotechnology Regulatory Services of the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The improved quality alfalfa product was the first-ever alfalfa product to receive this non-regulated distinction from the USDA.

S&W will now conduct open field trials throughout the United States to progress the development and characterization of new varieties with this enhanced digestibility trait.

Mark Wong, CEO of S&W Seed Company, says, “Unique trait technology in alfalfa seed varieties that are non-regulated, and are available to be grown by farmers in regions that currently prohibit GMO trait technology, is considered by many to be the holy grail within our industry. Today’s announcement of the successful molecular trait development work by Calyxt and commensurate transfer of the plants to S&W for field trials is an important milestone in advancing that outcome.”

“Advancing this improved quality alfalfa crop to field trials marks yet another major step in our mission to develop specialty food ingredients that have agriculturally advantageous traits for farmers. In addition, it proves Calyxt’s gene editing platform and product development capabilities in multiple crops,” says Federico Tripodi, CEO of Calyxt. “We look forward to continuing to work closely with our partner S&W Seed Company as we push forward toward commercialization and bringing our first alfalfa product to market in the near future.”