Editor’s note: WRAL TechWire’s weekly Deep Dive feature this week focuses on advances in agtech, climate change and food production.


RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Two companies – Oerth Bio of Durham and Yara International of Norway – are teaming up to promote technology they believe will help farmers around the world deal with climate change – and help us all continue to eat.

Great. We all need to eat, right? Okay, let’s start by getting one elephant out of the room: the Durham ag biotech company Oerth Bio is pronounced “earth bio.”

It’s one of the many ag biotech companies in North Carolina that are making news around the world with possibilities for the future of dining (aka nutrients), especially involving humans (aka homo sapiens), directly or indirectly.

John Dombrosky of Oerth Bio

John Dombrosky is the CEO of Oerth Bio. So this relatively new agricultural biotechnology company, wading into a weedy environment of “targeted protein degraders in plants,” is led by someone who has cred in the ag tech field.

The companies just issued a news release to let everyone know their collaboration “will focus on boosting plant resilience to combat escalating climate stress impacting crop production and farm economics.”

Oerth Bio plants in lab. (Oerth Bio photo)

The companies say they will “co-develop novel products to improve nutrient use efficiency and strengthen plant resilience to climate change. By linking Yara’s agronomic expertise in crop physiology and crop nutrition to Oerth’s specialization in rational design of plant protein degraders, the collaboration will develop unique products to activate precision plant stress tolerance.”

According to Yara Senior Vice President of Agronomy and R&D Markus Himken, “This collaboration will catapult Yara’s competitive footprint, offering farmers plant nutrition solutions specifically targeting plant resilience and improved crop quality — setting a new sustainable agriculture paradigm.”

The companies say the collaboration merges Yara’s global mission “for a nature-positive food future,” and Oerth’s vision that “protein degrader technology will transform agriculture.” Details to come.

Oerth says its Attune platform “harnesses a naturally occurring protein recycling system that precisely tunes climate-adaptable crops.”

An Oerth employee works with plants in the company lab. (Oerth photo)

The companies say they are devoted to the idea that human health begins with plant health. They say they “share a foundational commitment to sustainable and nutritious food system solutions.”

Apostolos Klontzaris, senior vice president of corporate and business development at Oerth, said, “This will be the first in a series of solutions that will enable crops to withstand climate change, enhance input efficiency, and improve food nutrient profiles. We are inspiring and motivating the necessary transition to high-quality food. Such mission-critical collaborations symbolize our longstanding commitment to humanity.”

(C) N.C. Biotech Center