Pharm crops – a super-disaster in the making

Publication - June 1, 2006
Genetically engineered (GE) “pharm” crops are designed to produce drugs and vaccines in the plant. The growth of such GE crops in the environment could potentially contaminate the human food supply and domestic animal food supply and as a consequence may cause harm to health.

Greenpeace activists dressed up as bunnies and bad scientists, action against genetically engineered soya.

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Executive summary: Genetically engineered (GE) “pharm” crops are designed to produce drugs and vaccines in the plant. The growth of such GE crops in the environment could potentially contaminate the human food supply and domestic animal food supply and as a consequence may cause harm to health. Pharm crops could have harmful ecological consequences if crossed with wild plants or eaten by wildlife. Therefore, Greenpeace demands a ban on the cultivation of pharm and other GE crops in the outdoor environment. crops that are designed to be taken by simply eating the plant. The idea is that such ‘edible’ vaccines could enable developing countries to produce cheap vaccines that could be stored without refrigerators (Anon 2005b). However, there are concerns about the variability of the concentration of the drug or vaccine in plants (e.g. variability with climate), causing uncertainties in dosage (GEN, 2000). In other cases, such as some GE plants producing human proteins, the protein may be purified from the plant so it can be subsequently used as a pharmaceutical. There is a wide array of pharm plants being researched. For instance, antibodies have been produced to treat tumours, tooth decay

Num. pages: 8

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