Scientists Call for New Regulations for "Growing" Medicines in Plants

Scientists from the US and Europe are recommending for amendments in an EU directive on GMOs to help stimulate innovation in making cheaper vaccines, pharmaceuticals, and organic plastics using plants. They published a paper in Current Pharmaceutical Design, comparing the risk assessment and regulation between US and Europe. They reported that in EU, plant-made pharmaceuticals need authorization similar with GM crops. In theory, agricultural crops can be grown by any farmer in EU once approved. However, this is not the case for pharmaceutical crops. Drug companies would likely license farmers to these crops under controlled, defined, and confined conditions.

Penny Sparrow of the John Innes Centre suggests that openness and transparency are vital to come up with new regulations that work for the public as well as for investors. Plant molecular farming will help in massive production of low-cost therapeutic proteins. This could benefit developing countries where storage concerns often lead to useless vaccines.

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This article is part of the Crop Biotech Update, a weekly summary of world developments in agri-biotech for developing countries, produced by the Global Knowledge Center on Crop Biotechnology, International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications SEAsiaCenter (ISAAA)

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