Native Traits

Developing naturally-occurring, non-GMO genetic traits for hybrid s...


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Native Traits Corporation is the premier developer and marketer of naturally-occurring traits for the hybrid seed corn industry. We work with breeders and genetic suppliers to enhance the profitability and performance of hybrid seed corn.

By using our proprietary NT RECOVERY™ technology, Native Traits is able to recover genetic traits from ancestral strains of corn. Our focus is on increasing yield, especially under drought conditions, and improving tolerance to extreme temperatures.

The domestic hybrid seed corn industry is at a critical juncture.

These complications leave farmers in search of alternatives, but any new product must be both economical and high-performing. Organic products are available, but generally do not perform as well as transgenic varieties.

Native Traits’ proprietary technology tackles these issues by reducing costs and improving performance.

Native Traits utilizes ancestral strains as a natural source of genes for seed corn. The U.S. Department of Agriculture maintains a public seedbank with over 22,000 strains of corn collected from all over the world.  Our core competency is the recovery of genes (traits) capable of increasing yield and making corn more tolerant of drought and temperature extremes.

Yield and stress tolerance are complex traits governed by multiple genes. For that reason, it is critical to measure the effect of these traits in the field, rather than a laboratory environment.

NT RECOVERY™ uses a proprietary algorithm to screen thousands of individual plants growing in a practical field environment. Once we identify a desired trait, we use molecular markers (DNA fingerprints) to track the presence of the trait as it is transferred to a commercial line. This genetic transfer is by natural means and does not involve genetic engineering (GMO) technology.

EaSY™ is our groundbreaking product that reduces the cost of seed production and increases hybrid yield. A naturally-occurring trait, EaSY™ was recovered from a diverse composite of Latin American varieties. By transferring the genetic information of EaSY™ to commercial seeds, we increase profitability, enhance hybrid performance and provide a more sustainable approach to agriculture.

Our NT RECOVERY™ technology is held as a closely-guarded trade secret. Furthermore, any company that wishes to use lines containing the EaSY™ trait is required to sign a contract that forbids any genetic analysis.

Native Traits has secured contracts with three genetic wholesalers and one multi-national genetic supplier to utilize our technology. We will produce commercial quantities of seed parent lines in 2021.  This so-called foundation seed will then be used to produce hybrid seed in 2022.  With help from our seed company partners, we will scale-up in the following years.

James Friedrich, PRESIDENT AND CEO | Dr. Friedrich started his career in the seed industry as the manager of the plant genetics program at Allied Corporation in the early 80s. He is a seed industry veteran and serial entrepreneur with a wealth of commercial and research contacts in the seed corn industry.

Stephen Haakenson, CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD | Steve is the Executive Director of the Biosciences Research and Commercialization Center (BRCC), the investment arm of Western Michigan University. He currently oversees a portfolio of over thirty active biotech start-ups.

Sue Sobeck, CONTROLLER| Sue serves as  Business Manager/CFO for Newhall Klein and several other companies in the Kalamazoo area.  At Native Traits, her responsibilities include preparation of financial statements for review by the board and interacting with outside auditors.

Brent Graves  | Brent began his early career working in seed corn brokerage at Illinois Foundation Seeds. Now working as an independent broker, he has long-standing relationships with the key sellers and buyers at foundation and hybrid seed companies.

David Mies  | Dr. Mies spent most of his career working as a plant breeder for Syngenta, including seven years developing the Syngenta Corn Research Program in China. Since 2013, he has worked as a Global Plant Breeding Consultant for a variety of organizations, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Lee Huey  | Lee began his career with Mike Brayton Seeds and was part of the team that pioneered the use of royalties in the commercialization of proprietary lines of seed.

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