GMO greenhouse barley well accepted
Mäntylä suggested a big advantage of having dry seed as the storage system for the protein is that seed can be stored for years before extraction of the protein occurs. Extraction is not that complicated, according to Mäntylä, as it basically involves milling the seed and using biochemistry processes.
click image to zoomRich KellerGreenhouse where only GM barley is grown from seedling to harvested seed. In a 2,000 square meter greenhouse in an ancient lava field, surrounded almost entirely by volcanic basalt rock with moss growing on it, parent GM barley sprouts are planted in pots on a slow moving conveyor. The temperature is controlled by geothermal hot water heating pipes and the lighting is supplied by geothermal-produced electricity from a power plant a couple miles away.
Iceland’s geothermal heating and electric companies pride themselves on the reliability of their networks; therefore, the greenhouse doesn’t have outages that could endanger three months of production, even though the freezing winter winds will howl at 70 miles per hour at times.
An additional 4,000 square meters of greenhouses are located on Iceland for protein production, research of GMO protein platforms and new product development.
As for the expansion of the company’s products, moving into skin care protein production became a goal after the company’s research staff determined they could produce proteins that the skin naturally contains, and the GM barley-produced protein has the ability to rejuvenate the skin. “It is like vitamins for the skin,” Mäntylä explained.
Some hurdles had to be overcome because it is difficult to maintain the stability of proteins in skin care products setting on a store shelf at room temperature under high humidity situations, “which is very unfavorable conditions for proteins because they can easily lose their activity,” Mäntylä said.
But the company came up with one product and is expanding its product offerings. The first product “kind of turned the skin care market in Iceland upside down. About 25 percent of women above 30 are using it,” Mäntylä said.
Distribution of the product is now occurring in 22 countries, including the U.S. where Martha Stewart mentioned it and in a manner endorsed it on her television show.
The company’s EGF BIOeffect serum is a skin care product advertised to contain EGF produced in barley plants. “This cellular activator stimulates renewal of skin cells and slows down biological processes of aging.” And this is why the five women in a group of journalists that I traveled with in Iceland were excited about receiving a free sample of the product. The United Kingdom journalists even asked for a second sample. There seemed to be no fear of GMO products in a skin serum.
The Orf Genetics company is the kind of business that promoters of Iceland would like to see established in the country. It is high tech, a fairly high user of energy (which is extremely cheap) and requires minimal labor to produce a high-value product.