Probiota Pioneer partners NGO to tackle urgent global nutrition challenges

By Nikki Hancocks

- Last updated on GMT

Anthony Finbow, Eagle Genomics CEO, and Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General ICRISAT
Anthony Finbow, Eagle Genomics CEO, and Dr Jacqueline Hughes, Director General ICRISAT

Related tags Probiotics microbiome Gut health

The microbiome-focused AI research startup Eagle Genomics has partnered the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in an aim to help solve urgent global challenges in food security, nutrition, and agriculture.

The new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed this week at the International Conference on Innovations to Transform Drylands with the aim to advance understanding of microbiome interactions – from soil, to plant, to farm, to fork, to gut, to health.

The work will aim to offer new approaches to sequester carbon efficiently, enhance nitrogen and phosphate availability for plants, reduce soil erosion and flooding and improve crop and community resilience to climate change and climatic events.  

Eagle Genomics, which recently joined NutraIngredients' Probiota conference as a 'Pioneer' in the industry, works to support the research projects of microbiome health companies with a 'One Health' vision - recognising that the health of humans, animals, and the environment are interconnected, and that the application of technologies to improve microbiome health in one area can benefit others.

ICRISAT is an India-headquartered non-profit scientific research organisation specialising in improving dryland farming and agri-food systems. 

Anthony Finbow, Eagle Genomics CEO, said the collaboration with ICRISAT was a natural fit given the purpose-driven nature of both organiations to improve the lives of those suffering from hunger and malnutrition. 

Achieving Safe and Nutritious Food for All

There is growing awareness that malnutrition cannot be solved without a robust understanding of the role of the microbiome both in enhancing resilience to climate change but also in enhancing nutrient absorption. This includes ensuring access to safe and healthy food and targeting novel microbial-based solutions to improve nutrition, enhance wellness and reduce disease. ​

Eagle Genomics' e[datascientist] platform applies machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide insights into solving complex problems and delivering greater impact in climate resilience, improving plant nutrient density, and increasing data-driven wellness and human health outcomes.

"The platform integrates active learning at every step of the microbiome innovation journey, from characterising and describing microbiomes, to a better understanding of complex causal mechanisms to elucidating host-microbiome interactions," Finbow explains.

“We are energised to partner with ICRISAT, which has over half a century of experience in improving dryland agri-food systems across the poorest communities of the world from which we can draw valuable data and explore the pressing questions of our time that remain unanswered.

"This promises enormous consequences for both public policies to incentivise private sector investment in new initiatives, and measures to address global challenges, both good for humanity and a corporation’s bottom line."

Sharing Knowledge for More World Firsts

Director General ICRISAT, Dr Jacqueline Hughes said the MOU would see ICRISAT share datasets with Eagle Genomics, drawing upon extensive on-the-ground experience in Asia and Africa that had led to several agricultural world firsts.

These include developing early maturing groundnut as well as high iron biofortified pearl millet, innovations that have directly responded to the challenges posed by climate change.

Dr Hughes says this new partnership offers an opportunity to address, and even leapfrog beyond, the Sustainable Development Goals to drive science-based targets for regenerative agriculture.

“The efficacy of our interventions both past and emerging and on which some 2.2. billion people depend, will increasingly depend on informed data-driven decisions in an increasingly complex world.

"Increasing the nutrient density in our food through enhancement of the microbiomes will help ensure ICRISAT’s mandate crops can address food security and malnutrition, in populations living in drought prone dryland areas. 

“I am delighted that our collaboration with Eagle Genomics and the strength they bring to our high-calibre partnerships will advance our mission of reducing poverty, hunger and malnutrition for the world’s poor,” adds Dr Hughes. 

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