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Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.  (RKDA)
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  Arcadia Biosciences's

Business Segments Description



Productivity Traits, the Yield and Stress Pipeline

Arcadia is a recognized leader in the area of yield and abiotic stress and our business was built on the premise that mitigating the impact of environmental stresses, whether chronic or transient, would generate meaningful yield gains in the most important crops in the world. We believe our yield and stress pipeline holds significant promise, as evidenced by our internal data and data generated by our partners in rice, wheat, soy, corn and cotton varieties. The commercial value of these types of traits will be fully unlocked as the traits are introgressed into elite germplasm by breeding partners and tested broadly in the field under different environments and agricultural practices. Therefore, while it is our view that the Arcadia pipeline is fairly advanced, significant development and testing has yet to be completed on several of our products as referenced in Phase 3 and Phase 4 of development.

Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE)

Our NUE technology enables plants to utilize nitrogen fertilizer much more efficiently than conventional plants. This allows crops to achieve significantly higher yields under normally applied levels of nitrogen fertilizer, or to achieve the same yields as conventional crops while using 30 to 50% less nitrogen fertilizer.

Nitrogen fertilizer is a primary plant nutrient and key driver of crop yield. Nitrogen fertilizer is also a significant component of crop production cost. Plant Biotechnology Journal reported that only 30% to 50% of added nitrogen fertilizer is taken up by agricultural crops, with the remainder left unutilized and potentially becoming a significant environmental pollutant.

Our NUE technology platform was initially based on a trait discovered at the University of Alberta (Canada), and we hold an exclusive, global license to the technology for use in all crops, with unlimited sublicense rights. Efficacy of this NUE technology has recently been demonstrated in field-grown rice, wheat, and canola by multiple groups. While we had planned to test NUE cotton lines in the U.S. in 2016, those lines will instead be field tested by our partner, Mahyco.

We are collaborating with Dow AgroSciences on development of NUE in corn from technology originating at Dow Agrosciences. Dow AgroSciences is currently evaluating this technology by means of multiple-location U.S. field efficacy tests in hybrid corn.

Positive field test results for our Dow AgroSciences corn collaboration will also help our research team determine whether to apply this separate NUE technology to additional crops like wheat and soybean. We plan to use a combination of NUE technologies in trait stacks to help us maintain and extend our technical and commercial advantage for this important trait area.

The target crops and markets for NUE include all major agricultural crops and markets. Our NUE technology has now been incorporated, or is under evaluation by our commercial partners, in major global crops, including rice, wheat, cotton, sugarcane, and multiple forestry species. Field trial data to date in multiple major commodity crops has shown yield improvements greater than 10% attributable to our NUE trait.
Water Use Efficiency and Drought Tolerance

Our Water Use Efficiency (WUE) trait enables plants to better tolerate two distinct types of stress: reduced or inconsistent water availability, and severe drought. The WUE trait has been demonstrated to improve crop yield under conditions of episodic water stress and to help crops recover from severe drought conditions. A related but distinct technology, Drought Tolerance, helps plants maintain yields under conditions of prolonged water stress.

Modern agriculture is highly water intensive, using approximately 70% of world water withdrawals, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO. UNESCO also estimates that future global agricultural water consumption will increase by about 19% by 2050 and could be even higher if the efficiency of agricultural production does not improve dramatically.

Water-limiting conditions can result from prolonged drought, leading to severe reductions in crop yields, or can result from periodic dry conditions, leading to reduced crop yields. Whenever water limitations occur, economic losses and impairment of the food supply result.

Our WUE trait technology was jointly discovered by researchers at the University of California, Davis and Technion—Israel Institute of Technology. We hold an exclusive, global license to the technology, with sublicense rights, for use in all crops. Greenhouse and field trials of our WUE traits have been completed in agronomic crops such as rice, wheat, cotton, peanuts and alfalfa. We are currently working with collaborators in rice, potato, sugarcane, cotton and multiple tree species.

Our Drought Tolerance (DT) technology was discovered by researchers at National Scientific and Technical Research Council (Argentina), and further developed by Bioceres, S.A. Verdeca, our joint venture with Bioceres, Inc., holds exclusive global rights and is developing and commercializing this technology in soybeans.

Our Drought Tolerance technology is most advanced in soybeans. Multiple seasons of field trials under yield reducing conditions that represent the average yield of soybean production in North and South America have shown significant yield improvements relative to controls with no decrease in yield under optimal conditions. The Early Food Safety Evaluation process has been completed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the plant protein responsible for our Drought Tolerance trait. The trait has full approval for food safety and international commerce in Argentina. Regulatory approval application was submitted in 2016 to the FDA and remains under review. Additionally, regulatory approval applications have been submitted in Uruguay and are pending final approval. Regulatory submissions were made in 2016 for import approval of Drought Tolerant HB4 soybeans into China. We plan to submit for commercial release in 2017 with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Further, we plan to submit for production approval in Brazil in 2017 and import approval in the European Union in 2018.

Salinity Tolerance
Our Salinity Tolerance trait allows plants to maintain yields under conditions of elevated salinity and is applicable to a wide range of crops, including wheat, rice, soybean, and cotton. Our salt-tolerant plants have also been demonstrated to bind excess salt from the soil into the plant, potentially providing the benefit of rehabilitating salinized land over time.

The global cost of lost crop yield to salt-induced land degradation is estimated to be $27.3 billion per year according to the United Nations Natural Resources Forum. Of the current 230 million hectares of irrigated land, 45 million hectares, or about 20%, are salt-affected. Crops grown under salt-affected conditions may be inhibited in two ways. First, the presence of salt in the soil reduces the ability of the plant to take up water, leading to reductions in growth rate. Second, if excessive amounts of salt enter the plant, there can be injury to the cells, which may cause further reductions in growth. Modern agriculture is highly water intensive and the ability to manage crops in saline environments will reduce agricultural demand on critical fresh water supplies.

Our most advanced Salinity Tolerance trait technology is based on technology from the University of Toronto, the University of California, Davis, and the National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences (Japan), all of which have granted us exclusive licenses for all crops. In addition, we are conducting research on additional salinity tolerance genes under a funded research agreement with the United States Agency for International Development, or USAID.

Target markets for the Salinity Tolerance trait are areas where water or soil salinity decrease crop yield. Such areas occur globally where irrigation is prevalent, where ground water supplies are salinized due to seawater intrusion and where soils are salinized due to mineral deposits. These conditions are common in North America, India, China, additional countries in Asia, Australia, and other major crop production countries. Our Salinity Tolerance trait has been licensed to partners in rice, wheat, cotton, and oilseeds.

Crops with tolerance to soil and water salinity are in various phases of development with our primary licensee and partner for the Salinity Tolerance trait technology. Our partner previously tested the most promising rice lines with our trait in a field in which controlled amounts of salt were applied to the replicated plots. In 2015, a field trial was executed on naturally high saline farmlands in India, where grain yields typically are very low, and we saw results similar to those in prior trials. Our partner has developed wheat lines that show significant salinity tolerance under greenhouse conditions, with some lines outperforming the controls by more than 30%, and additional wheat lines are in development to expand the scope of our partner’s first greenhouse evaluations. For salt tolerant cotton, our partner is preparing to conduct outdoor field trials in India.

Yield
Through our Dow AgroSciences collaboration we are evaluating several yield traits in corn through multiple-location U.S. field efficacy tests in hybrid corn. Positive field test results for our Dow AgroSciences corn collaboration will also help our research team determine whether to apply these yield technologies to additional crops like wheat and soybean. We plan to use a combination of these yield traits in stacks to help us develop a competitive technical and commercial advantage for this important trait area.

Our non-transgenic wheat yield program, supported by USDA SBIR, aims to increase yield in wheat using TILLING, a non-GM reverse genetics tool, to identify novel alleles of candidate wheat yield genes in tetraploid and hexaploid wheat. These alleles are being evaluated for the ability to alter wheat architecture and improve yield in the field. As a non-GM technology, products from TILLING can rapidly advance to commercialization and do not face market or regulatory restrictions. With a conservative 5% increase in yield, the yearly value creation to the U.S. farmer is estimated at over $30 per hectare. In addition, the value of higher yielding wheat varieties to a seed company arising from this research in the U.S. alone is more than $40 million annually. By incorporating favorable alleles of plant architecture genes into a commercial wheat breeding program, we believe we can make a significant contribution to improving yield in this vital food crop.

Herbicide Tolerance
Our Herbicide Tolerance program is currently focused on wheat. We have developed a non-GM source of tolerance to glyphosate, a widely used non-selective herbicide. We believe that the discoveries under this program are applicable to other chemistries and are likely to result in similar opportunities in other major crops.

According to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, or ISAAA, from 1996 to 2013, herbicide tolerant crops consistently occupied the largest planting area of biotech crops. In 2013 alone, herbicide tolerant crops occupied 99.4 million hectares, or 57%, of the 175.2 million hectares of biotech crops planted globally. For the first 17 years of commercialization (1996 to 2012), benefits from herbicide tolerant crops were valued at $47.7 billion, which accounted for 41% of global biotech crop value. For 2012 alone, herbicide tolerant crops were valued at $6.6 billion or 35% of global biotech crop value.

Our Herbicide Tolerance technology is in Phase 3 of development and was developed using our non-GM TILLING platform. This work is fully funded by a collaborator who has the option to obtain a non-exclusive commercial license to this trait in certain countries. We retain the right to further license this technology to additional collaborators in major wheat markets.

Testing results have shown tolerance in multiple alleles to levels of glyphosate herbicide, which may be sufficient to control many weed species in wheat production in certain markets. Individual glyphosate tolerant wheat lines are being combined via plant breeding to combine additional sources of tolerance and create products with increasing levels of tolerance.

Heat Tolerance
Our Heat Tolerance technology program is carrying out discovery research funded by USAID in collaboration with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center, or CIMMYT, and the Indian National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources, or NBPGR. Our work targets metabolic approaches to reduce the heat sensitivity of starch synthesis in wheat and increase membrane thermostability. With CIMMYT, we are investigating identified natural genetic diversity that affects membrane thermostability and induced genetic diversity in starch synthesis, developed by us, in order to improve wheat heat adaptation in a fundamental way.

Among major staple crops, global wheat yields may be the most impacted by climate change, according to a number of climate change models. And while wheat is the most drought-adapted of major crops, improving heat adaptation would make wheat a climate resilient staple. Developing countries are both significant producers and importers of wheat. According to CIMMYT, demand for wheat will increase by 60% by 2050 in developing countries. As we saw with the global food price crisis in 2008, poor yields in major wheat exporting countries such as Australia can have a significant impact on global prices.

Agronomic Trait Stacks
Trait stacks are combinations of multiple individual traits. Trait stacks can be made by using conventional plant breeding to cross plants with different traits, and can also be made by combining multiple traits in a molecular stack that is then inserted into a target crop. Our collaborators are generally allowed to combine multiple traits of ours either by breeding or molecular stacks. Deep portfolios of agronomic stress tolerance traits are rare in the industry, and the ability to pyramid multiples of such traits is even rarer. In order to validate the efficacy of particular trait stacks, we perform our own research and field trials.

We are advancing two molecular yield and stress trait stacks and have field-tested them in example crops. Efficacy of a trait stack in one crop suggests the probability that the stack will also work in other key crops. The history of single traits functioning in multiple crops, along with the evidence of stacked traits working in more than one crop, suggests that stacked traits are likely to function in multiple crops.

Our most advanced and tested trait stack—the combination of NUE, WUE, and Salinity Tolerance—has been field tested in rice over multiple seasons. We have tested this trait stack under varying levels of nitrogen, water availability, and salinity. Rice plants with this stack out-yielded control plants by 5% to 22% under different levels of nitrogen fertilizer, by 19% to 32% under different types of water stress, and by 27% to 42% under high salinity conditions.

In order to provide a compelling package of trait stacks to corn growers we entered into a strategic collaboration with Dow AgroSciences. Under the collaboration, Arcadia and Dow AgroSciences will jointly develop yield and stress traits, including several traits that have already completed advanced field trials in corn. These traits would then be combined with Dow AgroSciences’ crop protection traits such herbicide tolerance, insect resistance and disease resistance, to create highly competitive trait stacks for commercialization. As part of the agreement, Arcadia can also use the agronomic trait data that we jointly develop in corn to develop and commercialize yield and stress trait stacks in other crops.

Agricultural Product Quality Traits
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) Oil
Under a license agreement we have with Abbott, we developed a new source of vegetable oil with very high levels of gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, an omega-6 fatty acid. To our knowledge, our GLA safflower oil product has the highest concentration of GLA available in any plant oil at 65%; conventional plant oils range from 10 to 22% GLA. We sell the oil in the United States and Canada to manufacturers of nutritional supplements, medical foods, and other products. Our key customers include significant participants in those markets, such as GNC, Lindora Nutrition, and others.

GLA has multiple clinically-demonstrated nutritional and medical benefits, including anti-inflammation effects, improved skin condition and healthy weight management. Multiple parties have expressed commercial interest in incorporating an enhanced GLA oil into their foods, dietary supplements, or medical products where conventional sources of GLA are not sufficiently concentrated to deliver amounts that are cost- and performance-effective.

Against a commercial target of 40% GLA concentration, we developed, deregulated and commercialized GLA safflower oil containing up to 65% GLA concentration in fewer than six years. This is significantly fewer than the 13 years it takes, on average, to commercialize a seed using advanced breeding or biotechnology, according to Phillips McDougall. We produce GLA safflower oil by contracting with farmers in Idaho and process the seed under contract with a manufacturer in California to make refined oil. We sell GLA safflower oil under the brand name, SONOVA, with multiple concentrations and formulations.

In January, 2017 we received notification from the FDA that our GRAS petition (generally recognized as safe) for the use of SONOVA GLA in medical foods and nutritional beverages had been accepted, which means that we can now market and sell this product in a new market segment. We also filed a petition with the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine for the use of SONOVA GLA in dog food. That petition is currently pending and we expect approval in the first quarter of 2017. We anticipate the pet food approval to generate additional revenue opportunities for our GLA business.

Arachidonic Acid (ARA) Oil
Arachidonic Acid (ARA) Oil has high levels of the fatty acid ARA, which is a key ingredient in more than 90% of U.S. infant nutrition products. ARA contributes to benefits such as fostering infant eye and brain development. We estimate the global market for ARA at $160 million and believe that our ARA product will cost significantly less than currently available sources of ARA.

Our ARA Oil is being developed under agreements with Abbott and DuPont Pioneer, each of which licensed intellectual property to us for this program. In exchange for licenses to intellectual property, these agreements provide product access rights to Abbott and DuPont Pioneer, as well as certain royalty payments on product sales to third parties.

We have multiple safflower lines with oil compositions that have the potential of being direct replacements for current sources of ARA in infant nutrition products. We are evaluating near term market distribution opportunities in 2017 with our downstream partners.

Enhanced Quality Grains
We have multiple programs aimed at developing wheat and other small grains with improved nutritional qualities. One such program generated bread and pasta wheat lines with high levels of amylose, a type of resistant starch. Resistant starch increases the total dietary fiber content of wheat and reduces its glycemic index, which are both desirable nutritional qualities that are important in the management of diabetes and healthy blood glucose levels. In 2016 the FDA approved the use of qualified health claims for corn-based resistant starch in the risk reduction of type 2 diabetes, thus establishing a key precedent for the health benefits associated with this fiber. In 2012, the average American consumed 40% of the recommended level of daily dietary fiber, with whole grain consumption representing only 15% of targeted fiber intake and 80% of teenagers eating no whole grains. Grain products make up the largest fiber source in US adults, and thus are the ideal vehicle to deliver improved health benefits to a wide population.

A second program aims at improving the flavor profile and shelf-life of whole wheat flour, and is funded by Ardent Mills, which combines the operations of ConAgra Mills and Horizon Milling, a Cargill-CHS joint venture. A third program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, or NIH, is aimed at reducing gluten in wheat and other grains. All three of these programs utilize our TILLING platform, and the resulting products are non-GM.

Resistant Starch Wheat. Our Resistant Starch (RS) wheat provides a source of wheat with inherently high levels of resistant starch, increasing the total dietary fiber content of food products without the need for fiber additives from other sources such as corn, potato, green banana and cassava. Resistant starch is a key product in two market segments: dietary fiber additives and modified starch additives. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global dietary fibers market is projected to reach $4.31 billion by 2020 and the modified starch market is projected to $11.1 billion in 2020, with food and beverage applications accounting for approximately 50% of this market. Major growth in these markets is being driven by the convenience health food sector and functional food sector. Flour from our RS wheat lines has resistant starch levels that are 12 to 20 times higher than the control wheat, and total dietary fiber, or TDF, which is more than eight times higher than the control. RS wheat flour has been tested in applications in bread, where loaf quality was comparable to bread made with conventional wheat flour, and pasta, where it had the highest consumer preference rankings in tests carried out by a major consumer products company.

Improving Shelf Life of Whole Grain Flour. The USDA recommends that “at least one serving of grains per day must be whole grain-rich” due to evidence that a diet containing whole grains provides a multitude of benefits, including lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type-2 diabetes. Despite these health benefits, consumption of whole grain products is negatively affected by the bitter and rancid flavors and odors that accumulate in whole wheat flour after milling. Our improved stability and flavor wheat lines greatly reduced the production of rancid and bitter compounds in aged whole grain flour. Whole wheat flour from these lines is being tested further for sensory characteristics and improved shelf life stability. These new traits, singly and in combination, could help improve the shelf life and flavor profile of whole grain products, thus reducing formulation costs and increasing consumer preference and palatability for whole grains.

   

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