Tropic Like It’s Hot

Jul 8, 2022

Funding for ‘naners, coffee, and rice is steamin’ up.

Tropic Biosciences, a gene-editing startup out of the UK, just raised a lush amount of green to help fund its mission to improve and sustain tropical agriculture.

Green for genes: The $35M that Tropic banked will apply to gene-editing techniques to “promote cultivation efficiencies, enhance consumer health, and improve sustainable environmental practices,” mainly focusing on bananas, coffee, and rice.

The technology, called GEiGS (Gene Editing induced Gene Silencing) and pronounced “jigs,” not “gigs” (GIFs, anyone?), combines gene editing and RNAi (interference) to target disease resistance and improve quality traits. GEiGS allows direct targeting of viral, fungal, and pest genes, which moves things along faster than traditional gene editing technology—and makes things easier with regulatory requirements.

That stuff is bananas: B-a-n-a-n-a-s. Tropic Biosciences is using this technology to develop varieties of bananas that are more resistant to diseases peeling apart the banana industry: Black Sigatoka disease and Panama disease.

As for coffee and rice, they’re major components of the global commodity demand—coffee being the world’s most-consumed beverage and rice accounting for 25% of the global calories consumed.

Keeping it equatorial: While tropical regions produce a high number of commodities, they are also affected by poverty and climate change.

Tropic’s website says by 2030, tropical nations’ populations will:

  • Increase by more than 500M people
  • Inhabit eight of the world’s 10 largest cities
  • Account for more than 50% of the global population

Soundbite: “Our vision and mission has always been on harnessing some of the most cutting-edge genetic technologies and innovation, but harnessing them for the crops and regions that need them the most,” says co-founder and CEO, Gilad Gershon.