Faith in a Camelina seed can change our world
If you’re of a certain age, you know how canola oil revolutionized the food industry in the 1970s. Today, Yield10 Bioscience is out to do the same – and push it to even further applications – using Camelina. This impressive agricultural bioscience company, whose mission is to address the challenge of global food security, is a 2021 honoree as an Insperity Community Hero. And a little seed has a lot to do with that.
Camelina is a little-known oilseed plant in the mustard family that is native to Europe and used since medieval times as a food source. It has been found in the digestive tracks of ancient human bodies recovered from bogs, and it used to be grown extensively for oil and protein in Europe. The cultivation of rapeseed, however, which is the basis of canola, replaced Camelina during the 1940s.
At a Glance
Organization: Yield10 Bioscience Inc.
Location: Woburn, MA
Year founded: 2017
Year presented: 2021
Size: 3 - 30 employees
Yield10 is out to change that. They’re developing improved Camelina varieties and new plant performance traits that will help increase the productivity of major food and feed crops while minimizing strain on scarce natural resources. Not only can Camelina enhance global food security, but it can be used for these applications:
- Cover crop to reduce soil erosion, improve soil quality and control diseases and nutrient run-off
- High-protein meal for feed applications
- Edible vegetable oil for food preparation and flavorings
- Feedstock for renewable biodiesel
- Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) bioplastics for replacement of petroleum plastics
- Land-based source of omega-3 oils to replace depleting fish-harvested oils
To meet the expected need for food, Yield10 hopes to contribute solutions to double farm production with less land within the next 30 years using Camelina to create significant economic value, protect the environment and expand the earth’s natural resources.
There’s no question that this 2021 Insperity Community Hero is giving back to all our communities, even if the science behind camelina escapes you. Just as important is the value that Yield10 places on its employees and their wellbeing.
Yield10 was established as a reorganization of Metabolix in 2017 and has been an Insperity client since 2018. The company was seeking access to benefits for their employees that are typically unavailable for most small companies. “Our leadership team made the decision early on to always have the best benefits for our employees.
“And that’s not something we take lightly. It’s a tremendous retention tool, employees place a high value on it, and it’s the right thing to do,” said Dr. Oliver Peoples, president and chief executive officer of Yield10. “Our people are important to us. They’re important to our progress, and if you’re a member of the Yield10 team, we want to make sure you’re not worried about your health or health plan when you go home at night.”
Insperity also provided Yield10 the ability to improve upon certain HR-related administrative duties essential to running a good company. “It put us in a different category,” Peoples said.
“The (Insperity) relationship works for us. It’s at a fair price and an effective way to manage HR. For us, it was a question of finding a business partner to fit our key objectives – protecting our employees and developing solutions to do that.
“We don’t want to hear how we can cut costs, but rather how do we protect costs and ensure our employees have access to an excellent benefit package in a way that is manageable within our resources.”
Lynne Brum, vice president, planning and corporate communications, added, “Everybody was surprised when COVID broke, and the Insperity team really jumped in with a lot of urgency to help us consider various issues of HR and compliance during an uncertain time.”
Insperity provided confidence and a balanced perspective around changing information. “We’ve been able to tap into resources that have touched a lot of areas at Yield10,” Brum said.
Chris OShea, Insperity Business Performance Advisor who nominated Yield10 as a Community Hero, said, “They’re (Yield10) good people and loyal to Insperity. I think one of the biggest things we offered them during COVID was peace of mind.
“I think it’s good for Yield10 employees to see a more personal side of Insperity through this honor and make a more human connection with us. I think the human element adds a level of trust. And as I said, they’re great people, and we (at Insperity) try to align ourselves with great people.”
Peoples said his employees appreciate that through the Community Hero honor they’re being seen to do the right thing. “We’re being recognized as a company that values and is also valued by our employees, and that we’re trying to do something good.”
In that vein, Yield10 chose to give the $5,000 charitable donation made in their name as a Community Hero to the Boston Community Hero nonprofit honoree, Lovin’ Spoonfuls. “It was simply the right thing to do,” Peoples said. “We’re all aware of others who have a lot less, and it seemed appropriate that the Lovin’ Spoonfuls team, with a focus on food rescue, and doing work focused on food security for non-commercial reasons, should receive the funds.”