Could COVID-19 Cause ‘Biopharming’ to Bloom?


At an accelerated rate in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, academic and corporate scientists are using genetic engineering techniques to reprogram plants to produce significant concentrations of high-value pharmaceuticals. The concept is not new. Many common medicines, such as certain opiates, the laxative Metamucil, and the anti-cancer drug Taxol, are all purified from plants, and efficacy has been shown for some herbals in Traditional Chinese Medicine. There is great potential for cost-cutting in the process: The energy for product synthesis comes from the sun, and the primary raw materials are water and carbon dioxide. In addition, biopharming offers tremendous flexibility and economy when adjustments in production are necessary. The need for inexpensive, flexible production techniques for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines could be a potent stimulus to biopharming research and development.
Requires Subscription or Fee PDF

Unless specified by prior arrangement, the author agrees to the following terms and assurances:

  1. For myself and on behalf of the other authors listed on this work, I assign to thinkBiotech LLC the copyright* in the contribution for the full term throughout the world.
  2. I/we further give to the following assurances
    1. I am the sole author of the contribution, or, if not, I have the written authority of the other authors to transfer the copyright* to thinkBiotech LLC and give these warranties;
    2. I and (where appropriate) the other authors are entitled to transfer the copyright to thinkBiotech LLC and no one else would be entitled to prevent us from publishing the contribution;
    3. To the best of my/our knowledge, all the facts in the contribution are true and accurate;
    4. The content of the contribution is entirely original to me (and where appropriate to the other authors) or, if not, the written permission of the owner of the copyright in any material copied from elsewhere has been obtained for all media (all such permissions to be attached to the contribution as supplementary files);
    5. Nothing in the contribution is obscene or libellous;
    6. Nothing in the contribution infringes any duty of confidentiality which I/or the other authors may owe to anyone else.
    7. I and/or the other authors have obtained the appropriate clearances from my/our employer(s) or other concerned institution(s).
* Works by US government employees prepared as part of official duties are in the public domain and the authors are therefore exempt from copyright assignment.