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[SANET-MG] third world as a place to test pharm crops
The main problem associated with plant plant based vaccines is called oral
tolerance.Essentially consumption of vaccine epitopes in food may cost the
resistance to virus infection (oral tolerance is the reason that meat in foods
does not provoke an immune response). As well exposure of the unborn to the
antigen may cause that infant to be born equipped with the information that
virus is self. Oral tolerance is often discussed as a problem with oral plant
based vaccines and a danger related to polluting the food chain with viral
epitopes. The article illustrates the the "pump and dump" approach to promoting
pharm crops, complicating problems are not mentioned in public until the funds
are in place and the regulators cooperative.
Doing field tests in Africa because vandalism is feared seems to be based on the
assumption that those undertaking dangerous field tests need not provide
security for the tests. Along with that victims of field test accidents are
less likely to be recognized and taken care of in Africa. Developing countries
are being promoted as the proper place for dangerous field tests. In the future
such abuse of the third world will be recognized as criminal actions.
GM plants will be used to create Aids vaccine
By Steve Connor Science Editor
13 July 2004 the independent
Genetically modified plants are to be used to grow vaccines against rabies and
Aids, scientists have announced.
Europe's first field trial, announced yesterday, is likely to be carried out in
South Africa because of fears over crop vandalism in Britain.
The GM crop could dramatically reduce the cost of producing vaccines scientists
estimate they can be made at between a tenth and a hundredth of the price of
Dubbed "pharming" by its opponents, this is the latest step in technology which
allows medicines to be grown in plants. Although this project is concerned with
injectable vaccines, other trials under consideration involve extending the
research to oral vaccines which might be grown in edible raw food such as
Concerns about direct action by environmentalists opposed to GM crops has led
scientists behind the project to collaborate with a South African research
institute which has offered to grow the first crop there.
The EU has awarded ¤12m (£8.6m) to a pan-European consortium of scientists who
aim to develop the technology for growing GM plants that can be turned into
vaccines against a range of common diseases in the developing world.
Professor Julian Ma of St George's Hospital Medical School in London, the
scientific co-ordinator of the project, said that it will take about two years
to develop the technique before the first crop is scheduled to be grown in
Clinical trials of the first vaccine derived from GM plants are planned to take
place in 2009.
"Plants are inexpensive to grow and if we were to engineer them to contain a
gene for a pharmaceutical product they could produce large quantities of drugs
or vaccine at low cost," Professor Ma said.
"The current methods used to generate these types of treatments are labour
intensive, expensive and often only produce relatively small amounts of
pharmaceuticals," he said.
It is likely the first pharmaceuticals crop will be GM maize or GM tobacco that
will be engineered with a set of genes for making prototype vaccines against
either HIV or rabies. By purifying the proteins from the harvested crop
scientists hope to mass-produce vaccines at a fraction of the current cost.
South Africa's Council for Scientific and Industrial Research is participating
in the research and is particularly interested in potential vaccines against
HIV, the Aids virus.
The Friends of the Earth GM campaigner Clare Oxborrow said: "Growing medicines
in plants has serious implications for human health and the environment. We
recognise the need for affordable medicines to be made available to people with
life-threatening illnesses but this research could have widespread negative
Professor Ma said that 3.3 million people a year die from preventable diseases
such as tuberculosis and diphtheria, yet there is not the industrial capacity
or funds to produce enough vaccines for everyone. "The cost of doing nothing is
measured in millions of people who will die from preventable diseases," he
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