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Plants as bio-factories

1 October 2004

A new industry is emerging that uses plants as bio-factories for producing pharmaceutical products and industrial materials, giving rise to a new industry called “Molecular Farming”.

“The advantages of using plants include pharmaceuticals that can be produced at a lower cost and without contamination with animal pathogens,” says plant biotechnologist Dr Elizabeth Hood, Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Technology Transfer at Arkansas State University.

Dr Hood was speaking today at the 4th International Crop Science Congress in Brisbane. The Congress has brought together over 1000 delegates from 65 countries to focus on the key issues for cropping systems that provide food, feed and fibre for the world.

“The pharmaceuticals can also be delivered to patients orally, rather than through injections, because they can be produced in food crops,” explained Dr Hood.

“Industrial products can be produced inexpensively and in large volumes from plant production systems allowing replacement of polluting chemical agents with renewable, biodegradable raw materials,” she said.

Other potential products for human and animal health include vaccines and anticancer drugs. Possible industrial products include the means to make ethanol fuels from agricultural wastes, she explained.

“Plant production of biopharmaceuticals and bioindustrial proteins is a potentially viable industry with tremendous upside potential,” concluded Dr Hood.

4ICSC would like to thank all its supporters including the following major sponsors:
AusAID, CSIRO, Pioneer Hi-Bred International and QDPI

More information:
Cathy Reade, Media Manager, 4th International Crop Science Congress
Mobile: 0413 575 934

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