Seed World

Enko to Co-develop Selective Crop Health Solutions with Syngenta

Enko, the crop health company, announced today a multi-year partnership with Syngenta Crop Protection to design safe and sustainable solutions to the resistant pests and novel diseases farmers are fighting across the world. The targeted product development process will accelerate solutions for farmers and lead to significant economic benefits across the value chain.

Farmers today face tremendous challenges to their crops, and climate change is only intensifying these threats. Over 600 pests worldwide have developed resistance to current crop protection methods, representing $10 billion of losses in the United States alone, and new crop diseases are impacting more growing regions. Despite this dire reality, it currently takes 10-12 years on average for scientists to discover and companies to develop new products that will help farmers protect their crops from emerging pests, weeds and diseases. By applying proven pharma innovations to plants, Enko cuts the discovery time in half,arming farmers faster with tools to address evolving needs. 

Enko’s target-based approach combines novel drug discovery technologies like DNA-encoded libraries with machine learning and structural biology to dramatically improve the scale and speed of crop protection R&D. The approach allows scientists to screen more than 120 billion compounds simultaneously to identify molecules that bind like a lock and key to specific enzyme variants in pests. These highly selective molecules are more effective in lower quantities and do not impact similar enzyme variants in other organisms, which establishes safety guardrails from the first step of discovery.

“Emerging threats to crop health can only be solved by evolving our approach to designing products,” said Jacqueline Heard, CEO of Enko. “Collaborating with multinational agricultural companies on more selective and iterative product processes can push the industry forward. Together, we will use intentionality and precision to create novel crop health solutions that are both sustainable and effective, rather than one or the other.”

Enko is focused on uncovering novel modes of action that eliminate pests through new pathways and combat resistance. This R&D model could represent a major step forward in efficiency and success rates in the development process, while ensuring safety for humans and the environment. 

“The agrochemicals industry is ready to restart innovation for farm chemistry and give growers more safe, effective options to protect their fields.” said Enko Commercial Advisory Board Chair, David Jones. “By pulling inspiration from pharma, targeted R&D practices can help us develop better products without investing many hundreds of millions of dollars. Essential crop health products should be affordable and contribute to food security worldwide.”

The prospect of accessible options and more efficient solutions to treating pests and novel diseases will dramatically benefit farmers worldwide. In particular, Enko is committed to developing affordable crop health products for smallholder farmers in Africa, South America and Asia, who face a disproportionate disadvantage from pests due to climate change and are underserved by the products on the market today.