Is molecular “pharming” a potential hazard tothe environment?

Guenther Stotzky, Deepak Saxena

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Plants and animals are being genetically engineered as “biofactories” (“pharms”) to express a spectrum of biomolecules (e.g., antibodies, vaccines, hormones, blood substitutes, toxins, other pharmaceuticals) for numerous therapeutic purposes, as well as for industrial uses (e.g., enzymes). The release to the environment of these transgenic organisms, which contain foreign genes from human beings, other animals, and other organisms, may pose a hazard to the environment. For example, the continual production of these biomolecules in the tissues of plants could result in their accumulation to concentrations that may constitute a hazard to other organisms in soil, waters, and other ecosystems into which the biomolecules will be released in root exudates, biomass, pollen, etc. Accumulation, as well as persistence, will be enhanced if these biomolecules are bound on surface-active particles (e.g., clays, humic substances) in the environment and, thereby, are rendered less accessible for microbial degradation, as has been shown for the insecticidal proteins from Bacillus thuringiensis, which retain toxicity when bound.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEnvironmental Impact Assessments
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9781617284106
ISBN (Print)9781606926673
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009


  • Bacillus thuringiensis
  • Biofactories
  • Biomass degradation
  • Biomolecules
  • Clays
  • Cry proteins
  • Humic acids
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Transgenic plants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Environmental Science


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