Biotechnology in agriculture has two categories: (1)"improvements" to existing livestock and crops, and (2) development of entirely new uses for both animals and plants (Biopharming ) So called "improvements", include 'input traits' such as crops with extra resistance to insect attack and improved weed control. These "GM" or "GMO" crops are modified food crops made more commercially viable, e.g. "Roundup ready" soya, "Starlite" corn, or "Frost-tolerant" tomatoes. Consumers are worried about the safety of their food. Unfortunately we already have cases of compliance failures.
MOLECULAR FARMING is the term for new use plants only [not animals ] and is different in that this does not affect and has nothing to do with Food . Although it is not yet routinely used commercially, interest and investment in molecular farming with plants is accelerating rapidly. Full scale production licences are imminent, although actual land area involved will be very small and highly regulated, and much will start in contained greenhouses. There are two types of Molecular Farming - Medical and non-Medical.

TRANSGENICS 'biofarming animals' or 'pharming' is the related Animal field. This is the direct application of biotechnology to develop new uses from Animals and has already produced potential treatments for conditions as diverse as Diabetes and Cystic-Fibrosis.

Medical Molecular Farming is the growing and harvesting of genetically engineered crops of transgenic plants, to produce biopharmaceuticals [sometimes called 'farmaceuticals']. The idea is to use these molecular crops as biological factories to generate drugs difficult or expensive to produce in any other way. Combining plant genetics, molecular biology and gene delivery, scientists take genes from other sources, such as microorganisms, and splice them into the plant's genome. During normal growth these genetically engineered plants synthesize 'recombinant' proteins which can be Therapeutics, Vaccines, Blood substitutes, Enzymes or Diagnostics which are then extracted from the crop. These transgenic techniques are already being used to produce vaccines for some animal diseases, such as mink enteritis virus. Many others are at advanced stages, such as measles vaccine in Australian potatoes and drugs to fight cancer, heart disease, infant diabetes and Crohn's disease. Therapeutic Proteins, edible vaccines, 'plantigens' and 'plantibodies' are already in Clinical trials.

Tobacco plants are especially suited to this purpose, and by 2025 may be more valuable as a source of biopharmaceuticals than of tobacco, although land area involved will be very small. Other transgenic crops to date include Alfalfa, Safflower, Canola, Flax, Potatoes, Corn, Barley, Soybean, Peas, Beans, Bananas, Tomatoes, Wheat, Carrots, Lettuce, Duckweed, Moss & Rice.

Non-Medical Molecular Farming includes Industrial Enzymes and Polymers. Potentially the biggest development in this field could be the development of plants growing biodegradable plastics [ e.g. the Metabolix company ]{ Think of the amount of annual waste saved Globally } Other uses could be as Industrial oils such as hydraulic oil or highg yielding biodiesels, new solid Biofuels, new Fibres and Papers, and as agents for Bioremediation and Phytoremediation, environmentally cleaning up contamination. Although the term Molecular Farming has been around since 1986 in specialist literature, it is now becoming widely known because;--

• Sembiosys has achieved commercial levels of Insulin in Safflowers
• Dow Agroscience has achieved the first registration of a plant-made vaccine

So Agricultural Molecular Farming is taking off internationally.

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