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Icelandic Company Gets Grant for Bacteria-Figthing Barley

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Icelandic Company Gets Grant for Bacteria-Figthing Barley

Barley

Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

ORF Genetics has received an ISK 45 million (USD 351,000, EUR 315,000) grant from the EU and the Technology Development Fund to develop a feed enhancer for poultry to prevent campylobacter contamination, RÚV reports. The company has succeeded in cultivating special barley for this purpose.

Campylobacter contamination is a major problem worldwide, leading to food poisoning with serious consequences. Numerous people become infected every year, and in the UK alone, it’s responsible for 80 deaths a year. Research has shown that a certain type of protein reduces campylobacter contamination―the kind of protein found in the specially-cultivated barley.

Björn Lárus Örvar, CEO of science and product development for ORF says the company has developed genetically-modified barley by creating a barley gene and placing it within the barley plant. Once the barley has reached a certain size, it’s transplanted to the company’s greenhouse in Grindavík, Southwest Iceland, where it’s grown in large quantities. The barley is then ground and added to the poultry feed.

ORF Genetics has worked in cooperation with the University of Bristol to research the feed’s impact on poultry and has found it to reduce the amount of campylobacter without affecting the poultry. First results indicate the amount of the bacteria can be reduced by up to 1,000 times.

Hákon Birgisson, head of marketing development at ORF, hopes to see the feed on the market as early as 2019 or 2020.

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