Collaborations with G+FLAS and Pairwise will advance gene-editing initiatives for tomatoes and leafy greens

Bayer has announced two external partnerships to advance the development of gene-edited in vegetables. The first sees it team up with South-Korean biotech company G+FLAS to develop genome-edited tomato varieties that are nutritionally enhanced with vitamin D3. The collaboration will leverage G+FLAS’ genome editing technology and Bayer’s proprietary tomato germplasm.


Part of the agreement is also the ambition to develop seeds for a broader variety of tomato products using genome editing.

Speaking during the World Seed Congress in Rotterdam this week, Bayer’s head of vegetables R&D, JD Rossouw, said: “Bayer is committed to achieving ‘Health for All, Hunger for None’. As we work toward this mission, we are proud to address a widespread nutrition problem and to support a healthy diet through cutting-edge technology.

Ruth Mathieson, global head of strategic marketing at Bayer Vegetable Seeds, said the company is committed to deliver foods that are not only rich in nutrients but also delightful in taste, “which, in turn, provides significant benefits throughout the value chain and enhances the competitiveness of our growers”.

In the second initiative, Bayer signed a licensing deal with US-based ag-tech startup Pairwise to develop and commercialise Pairwise’s genome edited mustard greens. These are a mix of colourful leafy greens with a unique, fresh flavour and higher nutrition compared to lettuce, achieved through genome editing. They were the first gene-edited food introduced to the North American market.

“This agreement and its focus on genome-edited produce made a substantial contribution to our open innovation approach. We’re excited to partner with Pairwise on their innovative leafy greens, which deliver a new, great-tasting salad option with high nutrition value,” Rossouw said.

“The latest deal creates value beyond just selling a product, as it also comes with rights to use the knowledge, intellectual property, and technology going forward.”

The license includes commercialisation rights for the varieties developed by Pairwise and rights to develop new varieties.

The collaborations with G+FLAS and Pairwise are an example of a crucial part of Bayer’s innovation strategy of combining its R&D capabilities with knowledge and ingenuity from experts outside the company. As part of this, Bayer has now started another open innovation platform with a focus on genome editing in fruits and vegetables.

“Great innovations need great minds and the power of many. This is why we are seeking to partner with academic researchers and companies to develop new fruit and vegetable products that have increased nutritional content, positive environmental impact, or enhanced consumer appeal by harnessing the speed and precision of genome editing and new breeding techniques,” Rossouw said.

In January, the European Parliament voted to make it easier for member states to grow and consume genetically engineered food.