Gene Editing Gets Public Market Approval as Calyxt Raises $64m IPO

Gene editing has caused a lot of excitement in agriculture technology circles for its potential to produce crops, and even animals, with improved characteristics. The technique, which enables undesirable traits — such as intolerance to heat — to be edited out of a genome,  or preferred traits — such as high nutritional content — to be enhanced, has also been lauded as a “non-GMO” method of advancing breeding; creating crops with characteristics that many argue would naturally appear over generations through evolution without the introduction of any foreign DNA.

With consumer acceptance of GMO food at all time lows, this technology could be a game changer for many sectors and last week the public markets got their first chance to access it in an agricultural context.

Calyxt, a Minnesota-based subsidiary of French biopharmaceutical company Cellectis, successfully spun out from its parent and raised $64.4 million in an IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange. While pricing at the bottom of its $8-$10 a share range — revised down from an earlier $15-$18 range — the stock was a hit on its first day gaining 30% and reaching a high of $11.25. The offering was also oversubscribed, with the underwriters selling their optional over-allotment. It is currently trading around $10.70 with the ticker CLXT.

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