Arcadia Biosciences Inc. announced that its joint venture with Bioceres S.A., Verdeca, has received approval of its HB4 stress tolerance trait in soybeans by Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. The President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, made the official announcement on Monday at a special event broadcasted nationwide. Verdeca’s completion of the regulatory process in Argentina for HB4 stress tolerant soybeans is the world’s first for an abiotic stress tolerance trait in this crop.

In six seasons of multi-location field trials in Argentina and the United States, including three years of regulatory field trials, the HB4 trait has demonstrated yield increases of up to 14 percent under multiple stresses – including drought and low-water conditions – typically found in soybean production areas.

“Our regulatory team has done an amazing job to accelerate HB4 soybeans toward commercialization through the generation of quality data and open communication with regulatory agencies,” said Eric Rey, president and CEO of Arcadia and a manager of Verdeca. “This approval is great news for farmers trying to meet the growing global demand for soybeans under challenging environmental conditions. HB4 soybeans will create significant value for soybean growers and end markets by increasing the productivity and sustainability of the world’s most important protein crop.”

Soybeans are the world’s fourth-largest crop, grown on more than 270 million acres worldwide with a global market value of $113 billion. South America is the world’s largest exporter of soybeans to both developed and developing countries, and more than 45 percent of the world’s soybeans are grown in Argentina and Brazil. Global demand is projected to increase over the next decade as a result of population growth and the expanding middle class in highly populated countries such as India and China.

With the Argentinian regulatory process complete, Verdeca expects to focus on gaining approval to export HB4 soybeans to China, the largest importer of South American soybeans. According to a 2013 Rabobank report, Chinese soybean imports have increased from 13 million tons in 2001 to more than 60 million tons in 2013, and are projected to increase by an additional 20 million tons in the next decade.

In addition to the Argentinian approvals, Verdeca completed the US Food and Drug Administration Early Food Safety Evaluation in August for the plant protein responsible for the HB4 stress tolerance trait.