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Moa Technology - innovation in crop protection

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by Startacus Admin

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The lowdown on Oxford-based biotech startup Moa Technology and its mission to tackle the growing problem of herbicide resistance.

60c0c04bbd77195e7fad86c1_amaranthusweb2.Herbicide is a contentious thing. It keeps food safe from pests and keeps away weeds that would use up crops’ nutrients, etc., but it also has a pretty bad impact on the environment.

Herbicides contaminate the soil and water, they can kill animals and insects that aren’t doing harm to the crops, and they can even damage the crops themselves, for example, decreasing the plants’ ability to photosynthesise. Another consideration farmers have is that weeds can develop resistances to herbicides, resulting in harsher chemicals being used, resulting in more significant negative impacts…

Oxford-based biotech startup Moa Technology is taking on the challenge of herbicide resistance with a new approach to creating sustainable alternatives to current offerings. It’s important to find ways to negate herbicide resistance, because without them, the methods of farming would have to change, and would lead to a rise in water usage, fertiliser, and space required, all of which would have their own negative impact on the environment.

moa technology imageBut by looking to nature and harnessing the principles of natural selection, Moa is creating novel modes of action (MOAs - the way in which chemistry interacts with plant biology) to break those resistances while increasing safety and sustainability.

The startup says that, while the history of herbicide shows only 24 ‘mode-of-action areas’ ever being commercialised, they have found 25 in their first 18 months of research. This variation will help in reducing the build up of resistances in weeds.

The research has been looking for a balance of efficacy, cost and ease, and safety, and are now at the point where some of their new MOAs can be taken forward to the next stage.

In May, Moa Technology announced that they had raised a huge £35 million in a Series B round led by Lansdowne Partners, Oxford Sciences Innovation, and Parkwalk Advisors. This funding will help the Oxford spinout move those MOAs forward for further R&D and testing.

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Published on: 12th July 2022

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