Tobacco is known worldwide to be used for the purpose of smoking, but this unhealthy usage of tobacco can be replaced by using its seeds and leaves for the sustainable production of currently limited resources like biofuels, biomaterials and proteins, thereby supporting the future existence of our planet and of diverse industries at once. Moreover, the smoking tobacco industry declines globally and the World Health Organisation (WHO) prompts farmers to rethink agricultural utilisation and to move towards more sustainable alternative applications.
In this project we combine plant and industrial biotechnology with the aim to support a sustainable pathway of tobacco production in order to:
- reduce the usage of fossil oil and chemicals
- ensure farmers existence, support the local economy and introduce new market opportunities for tobacco producers
- deliver plant-based and economically viable production platforms and markets
We thus work on increasing the value of commercially grown tobacco with cyanophycin-(CGP)-synthetase-enriched products that can sustainably substitute fossil raw materials and chemically produced non-degradable ingredients.
In doing so, we further aim at establishing a new economically feasible production system for the biopolymer CGP as a by-product of tobacco without relevant additional costs. This can be adopted by farmers and biotech companies in Argentina.
The production of CGP in the tobacco variety SL632 would lead to an expansion of the market opportunities and economic prospects of the crop: given the value of its biopolymers medicinally, nutritionally and as a substitute for fossil-fuel based chemicals, to name a few. It can be expected that CGP-producing SL632 tobacco – if technologically feasible and commercially viable in Argentina – will be transferred to the tobacco-growing areas in Europe (Italy, Spain, Poland, Bulgaria and Greece) and boost accordingly the bioeconomy in these countries and in the European Union as a whole. It will provide Europe with an improved and potentially massive bio-based source for biofuel, biomaterials and food/feed protein, reducing the dependency on overseas crops such as soy, palm, coconut, etc. It also would support the reduction of the European carbon footprint by eliminating the transport of these crops to Europe and by replacing fossil-based fuels and chemicals with bio-based alternatives. In the end, the substitution of fossil fuels and the contribution to the reduction in greenhouse gases emission can be assessed, additional jobs created, and the value added to the bio-based economy in Argentina and Europe.
The project has thus the overall goal to contribute to ecological, economic and social sustainability by reducing the usage of fossil oils and industrial polymers, by delivering plant-based and economically viable production platforms and markets while supporting the livelihood of local agricultural tobacco regions and small farmers in Argentina and beyond.