Company announces major food safety breakthrough concerning fish & shrimp

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. – State and Los Alamos County officials unveiled a major economic development package for Pebble Labs USA Inc., a biotech company that on the same day announced a scientific breakthrough in preventing disease in fish and shrimp that promises to revolutionize food safety throughout the world.

“Pebble Labs is doing remarkable research, and not surprisingly it’s happening in Los Alamos, New Mexico, one of the United States’ centers of research excellence with one of the world’s highest concentrations of PHDs,” said Michael Harrison, CEO of Pebble Labs. “Pebble Labs is proud to be working with Los Alamos, Gov. Lujan Grisham, the State of New Mexico and the New Mexico Consortium to be advancing science for a better world. Our most recent breakthrough in stopping disease in aquaculture is just one example of the innovations to come.”

 The state of New Mexico is pledging at least $4 million in economic development assistance to Pebble Labs USA, Inc. to expand its biosciences business in Los Alamos into a world-class research facility, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced today.

 “I am proud to be supporting homegrown businesses like Pebble Labs that are driving innovation and cutting-edge scientific research right here in New Mexico,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “This is exactly the kind of business expansion and industry growth that will diversify the state’s economy and keep talented young adults here in New Mexico.”

Pebble Labs USA Inc., a biotech research company based in Los Alamos with the mission of making food safer and more secure around the world, has a mission of researching ways to eliminate pesticides in crops, antibiotics in seafood, and to eradicate the spread of Zika Virus and other vector-borne diseases around the world. To this end, the company is expanding its facility in Los Alamos with the help of the state of New Mexico and Los Alamos County in the form of LEDA assistance and Industrial Revenue bonds. Pebble Labs is expanding its facilities to a ten acre, multi-million dollar campus.

“This is a major breakthrough because it will increase the yield of shrimp farms, and other food sources such as salmon and even poultry and beef, without the over-use of antibiotics,” said Dr. Richard Sayre, chief science officer. “In a planet that is soon to reach ten billion people, this promises to feed our population while reducing the use of chemicals and putting less stress on our ecosystems.”

Recognizing the promise of Pebble Labs and its place in New Mexico’s growing economy, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham today announced $4 million in LEDA (Local Economic Development Act) funds for the growing company in Los Alamos.  The company now employs more than 80 people and has plans to expand to 175 employees over the next ten years.  The compensation for direct, full-time employees will be $150,000 or more, and the company spend on employees will exceed $20 million annually.

The direct impact from both existing and future operations is $577 million with over $1 billion in direct and indirect impact, according to Alicia Keyes, cabinet secretary for the Economic Development Department.

“New Mexico has stepped up with a major economic development package to help ensure the success of this company,” said Keyes.  “This company promises to change the world with breakthroughs in food safety and we have worked hard to develop this company here in our state. The expansion will create more good paying jobs in New Mexico.”

In addition, the County of Los Alamos has donated  $1.4 million in property in the Entrada Business Park and approved issuance of $12.5 million in an Industrial Revenue Bond (IRB) for the expansion of the company.

“Los Alamos County Council strongly supports this economic development initiative as evidenced by our recent unanimous vote,” said County Council Chair Sara Scott. 

Mermaid, a division of Pebble Labs, today announced the major scientific breakthrough that promises to prevent disease in aquaculture and reduce the overuse of antibiotics by this multi-billion-dollar industry that is essential to feeding a planet soon to reach a population of 10 billion people.

By using its patented technology, developed at Pebble Labs, the naturally occurring bacteria found within shrimp and ponds were successfully used in a just-completed Florida study to prevent the transmission of White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in shrimp. The study, soon to be published, was the first to successfully use bacteria expressing RNA interference molecules to block the replication and transmission of WSSV in shrimp. The success rate was 100 percent, which promises a major breakthrough and new tool for the industry to improve yields and reduce the use of antibiotics.

Diseases such as WSSV are a major reason why up to 40 percent of shrimp never make it to market, resulting in multi-billion dollar losses each year. Current methods of controlling white spot include the use of probiotics that achieve at best a 10 percent reduction in shrimp mortality.

The Mermaid solution, patented and being developed by Pebble Labs, uses RNAi technology that enables bacteria to block the ability of White Spot pathogens to replicate within shrimp and aquaculture ponds. The technology does not genetically alter the shrimp itself, meaning that it is a non-GMO food source. It is expected the technology will have similar benefits in salmon and other aquaculture sectors, and be applicable to the poultry and beef industries.

“In the future, our technology may be applied to the beef and poultry industries, thereby eliminating the use of antibiotics by eradicating diseases at the cause,” said CEO Harrison.  “Think about the breakthrough – no more antibiotics used in our food supply! This is the kind of science you can expect in the future from Pebble Labs.”