Agricultural Biotech Cibus Expanding as Launch of First Enhanced Crop Nears

[Corrected 10/28/10, 9:45 am. See below.] San Diego-based Cibus Global held an open house last night at the company’s new headquarters, which gave me an opportunity to get an update from CEO Keith Walker on the agricultural biotech’s growth spurt since last year.

The startup, which officially spun out of Pennsylvania-based ValiGen in late 2001, is marking the commercial introduction of its first enhanced crop—an herbicide-resistant strain of canola—in coming weeks. Cibus also plans to expand its workforce, from 52 to 60 employees by the start of 2011, and has moved its headquarters into a refurbished leased facility once occupied by La Jolla Pharmaceuticals. The impressive, platinum LEED-certified space might even mark the beginning of a tech resurgence among the vacancies that pockmark Sorrento Valley’s Nancy Ridge Drive.

Keith Walker

Keith Walker

“It’s been a fabulous 15 to 18 months for us,” Walker says. “We’ve done almost $50 million worth of transactions on behalf of the company with corporate partners.”

[Corrected to explain the technique used by Cibus does not insert an entire gene] Cibus, for everyone who neglected to take Latin, is roughly translated as “food for man.” The company uses its proprietary “Rapid Trait Development System” technology to achieve a desired trait, such as resistance to a widely used weed killer, in certain crops it has targeted. Cibus has managed to sidestep harsh protests over genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, because its … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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