St. Louis Researchers Make Big Palm Oil Discovery

A palm oil mill sits where rainforest once did in Malaysia. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons
A palm oil mill sits where rainforest once did in Malaysia. | Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

St. Louis-based Orion Genomics believes it has made a discovery that will save swaths of Southeast Asian rainforest while more efficiently satisfying the growing global demand for palm oil. The company announced last week it has sequenced the palm oil genome, identifying the gene mutations that lead to higher-yielding palm oil trees.

Palm oil has become the world’s most widely produced food oil and fuels an industry that’s worth $44 billion. The oil is found in everything from toothpaste to sauces, having gained popularity among manufacturers because it’s cheap and shelf-stable

Orion’s work could mean fewer palm trees are planted on fewer acres, placing less pressure on rain forests while still satisfying demand.

Read more from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St. Louis Business Journal


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