Egg Alternatives

PoLoPo Seeks USDA Approval, Says Production of Egg Proteins in “Plants, Not Animals, Will Set Off a Domino Effect in Sustainability”

Israeli agrifood startup PoLoPo announces it has initiated the regulatory approval process to grow egg proteins in genetically modified potatoes in the USA. 

PoLoPo explains that it has applied for a Regulatory Status Review (RSR) to the US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to review its molecular farming platform called Super AA. The approval process evaluates whether GMO potatoes are as safe for agriculture and do not present additional pest risks as conventionally farmed potatoes.

The USDA approval, expected within six months, will allow the company to advance its commercial plans, including partnering with local farmers to use its technology. The startup claims to be the first Israeli molecular farming company to seek US regulatory approval.

PoLoPo CEO Maya Sapir-Mir comments: “This is an important milestone for molecular farming as well as for PoLoPo to establish safety and clearance to begin growing GMO plants.” 

The PoLoPo team working at its potato platform
Image courtesy of PoLoPo

An alternative to eggs

Sapir-Mir and Raya Liberman-Aloni founded PoLoPo in 2022 to develop plant biofactories for proteins, starting with the egg protein ovalbumin. The startup has raised $2.3 million, including $1.75 million in a pre-seed funding round last year.

The molecular farming pioneer explains that its SuperAA platform leverages proprietary metabolic engineering techniques to grow the revolutionary egg proteins in potatoes. But while derived from genetically engineered plants, the proteins extracted from the tubers do not contain genetic material and are considered non-GMO.

“The production of ovalbumin in plants, not animals, will (…) set off a domino effect on sustainability, a big first step toward changing our food industry”

PoLoPo’s ovalbumin powder is said to integrate seamlessly into current food processing lines and formulations. According to the company, its powder is a cost-effective alternative to traditional eggs amid increasing prices, supply chain disruptions, and avian flu outbreaks.

Additionally, from the process, PoLoPo extracts patatin, the natural protein in potatoes that can also be used in multiple F&B products.

Petri dishes with samples of proteins
© Tal Shahar

Proteins in plants

Other molecular farming startups include the Israeli startups  BioBetter, which grows proteins for growth factor in tobacco plants, and Finally Foods, growing casein for cheesemaking in potatoes. Miruku, a New Zealand startup also grows dairy proteins and fats in oilseed crops and the UK’s Bright Biotech harnesses proteins in the chloroplasts of plants to make growth factors for cultivated meat.

Sapir-Mir adds, “The production of ovalbumin in plants, not animals, will transform food processing with a price- and supply chain-stable option and set off a domino effect in sustainability, a big first step toward changing our food industry.”

PoLoPo has won several innovation awards and honors, including the Coller Startup Competition and MassChallenge Israel’s Better Plate Track.

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