Seed World

Alternative Proteins Opens Avenues to New Crops

The term “alternative proteins” is a buzzword across the globe — think about all the new products coming out boasting about being a meatless alternative that tastes just like a burger from McDonalds. Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods… There’s even egg alternatives called “Just Egg”!

As an interest in sustainability continues to grow, so does the interest in consumers to play their part in the world. To some, that means making the switch to plant-based proteins. Because of that, research in different crops is skyrocketing to find appropriate plant-based protein alternatives.

On March 2, Seed Speaks is tackling just that: what crops are appropriate for alternative proteins and why? We see the ability for soybeans in a protein space, but what about crops such as hemp, beans and even yellow peas? We’ll be talking with Gil Shalev, CEO and founder of Equinom,  Tom Michaels, professor of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities and Bill Greuel, CEO of Proteins Industry Canada.

Shalev is the visionary, entrepreneur and driving force behind Equinom. Prior to founding the company, he was an executive at a Vilmorin & Cie subsidiary and co-founded a flower-breeding start-up. Shalev earned a PhD in plant genetics from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His research achievements include developing integrated sequencing technology for breeding and discovering new plant genes and gene combinations. He sees better, naturally bred plant-based ingredients, which Equinom technology enables, as an important, sustainable and pragmatic solution to our global health and climate crises.

Michaels studies classical plant breeding and genetics with current research projects focused on improvement of industrial hemp, sweet sorghum and dry edible beans. He collects, evaluates and selects within naturalized cannabis populations found across Minnesota and develops breeding lines with genetics useful to hemp farmers growing for grain, fiber or legal cannabinoids. Michaels recently collaborated on a project to extract hemp grain protein isolates with high purity and yield from multiple cultivars. He is a founding director of the Open Source Seed Initiative, an organization maintaining fair and open access to plant genetic resources and recent recipient of the Horace T. Morse-University of Minnesota Alumni Association Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education.

Greuel was born and raised on a mixed farm near Bruno, Saskatchewan, and has, since he can remember, been involved and employed in agriculture. After completing a BSA and MSc at the University of Saskatchewan, hejoined Zeneca Seeds where he helped bring to market the world’s first canola hybrids. In his time with Zeneca Seeds, Greuel also served as the Product Development Manager for Latin America where he worked to introduce canola into crop rotations in Brazil and Paraguay. In 2014, he returned to the public service, serving first as the Executive Director of the Crops and Irrigation Branch, and later as the Assistant Deputy Minister of Regulatory and Innovation for the Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture. It was in his role as ADM that Greuel learned about and became involved in the development of Protein Industries Canada, becoming the organization’s first CEO in 2018.

Make sure to tune in March 2 at 12:00 CST: