The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, Australia’s national science agency, has launched a new company to develop a seaweed-based livestock feed additive with backing from private investors.
FutureFeed has been established to commercialize a livestock feed additive made from the seaweed asparagopsis, which has been shown to reduce methane emissions from beef and dairy production by up to 80 percent in research trials conducted in Australia and the US.
The company was formed following a competitive investment process that has seen four investors join CSIRO in taking stakes in the business: a joint venture between AGP Sustainable Real Assets and Sparklabs Cultiv8; ASX-listed GrainCorp; Harvest Road, an agribusiness owned by mining billionaire Andrew Forrest; and Australian supermarket giant Woolworths.
The investors have committed A$13 million ($9.4 million; €7.9 million) in total to acquire their stakes in FutureFeed.
The aspargopsis supplement has been developed by CSIRO over the past five years in collaboration with lobby and research group Meat & Livestock Australia and James Cook University.
Scientists at the CSIRO estimate that if the additive were to be adopted by 10 per cent of beef feedlots and dairy industries globally, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the livestock industry by approximately 120 megatonnes per year, equivalent to the emissions of around 50 million vehicles.
FutureFeed will also explore options for greenhouse gas abatement payments for livestock producers that adopt the supplement.
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said in a statement: “FutureFeed enables agriculture and the environment to be partners not competitors, helps overcome negative perceptions of the cattle industry, and gives Australian farmers an advantage in the global marketplace as first adopters of this Aussie innovation.
“FutureFeed is addressing some of the greatest challenges we face, including food security, sustainable production and climate change, by turning science into a real product in the hands of business so they can turn it into jobs and economic growth.
“By earning equity in FutureFeed, CSIRO can continue to invest in great science for the future of industry.”
Minister for industry, science and technology Karen Andrews described the business and its product as a “game-changer.”
“This is an example of what can be achieved when industry and researchers work together to solve real-world problems. It also highlights the ongoing jobs and economic opportunities that can come from ensuring our world-leading research is commercialized,” she said.