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Kiwi Daisy Lab Gets EPA Approval for Scaling Up of Precision Fermentation for Dairy Proteins

In a significant step forward for New Zealand’s biotech sector, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved an application from Auckland based, Daisy Lab to scale up the production of dairy-identical proteins using precision fermentation. The approval marks a crucial milestone for Daisy Lab to move from laboratory scale production to maximum 2000Litre bioreactors with a maximum of 5000Litres.

The decision by the EPA bodes well for the startup to now attract significant funding to support commercialisation.

Daisy Lab founders

Source: Daisy Lab Co-Founders Nikki Freed (left), & CEO, Irina Miller & Emily McIsaac

EPA’s General Manager Hazardous Substances and New Organisms, Dr. Chris Hill, highlighted the environmental benefits of this technology. “Precision fermentation has the potential to offer significant savings in land use, water use, and reduction in carbon footprint,” said Dr. Hill.

Daisy Lab already holds approval to genetically modify two types of yeast in a secure laboratory environment. “This new approval will allow them to scale up the work already underway and increase production,” Dr. Hill said in the EPA'S announcement.

To ensure safety, Daisy Lab is required to implement stringent controls to contain the genetically modified yeast at all times. After fermentation, proteins such as whey or casein are harvested and purified, ensuring that no genetically modified organisms (GMOs) remain in the final product. “We are confident this work poses no risk to human health,” Dr. Hill assured, noting similar work is being undertaken internationally.

The application was processed under the EPA’s rapid assessment pathway, resulting in a decision within ten working days. “I’m pleased we are able to provide timely decisions like this to researchers wishing to study well understood, low-risk organisms,” said Dr. Hill. The applicant demonstrated stringent safety standards, and their facility will undergo regular inspections.

Precision fermentation involves the controlled cultivation of genetically modified microorganisms, such as yeast, in bioreactors. These yeast are modified to produce specific proteins, which are then harvested and purified to remove any GMOs. This innovative approach promises to revolutionise dairy protein production, offering a more sustainable alternative to traditional methods.

The decision ironically comes to the day giant animal dairy products producer, Fonterra, puts its consumer cheese and milk brands on the block for sale.

With this approval, Daisy Lab is ready to make significant contributions to sustainable food technology in New Zealand, advancing the country’s position in the global biotech arena.

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