Patrick A. Stewart and William McLean
Arkansas State University
The third generation of agricultural biotechnology looms large as plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMPs) and plant-made industrial products (PMIPs) both promise new, cheaper, and more plentiful pharmaceutical drugs and industrial products, such as plastics, cosmetics, enzymes, and epoxies. At the same time, they threaten the US food supply through adventitious presence (e.g., inadvertent mixing) of PMPs/PMIPs with the traditional food supply—a concern brought home by the StarLink and Prodigene controversies in the past few years. This paper explores the third generation of agricultural biotechnology by looking at the products being developed and field tested and the regulations being implemented to address environmental release of PMPs and PMIPs. We next address the overwhelming public response to Federal Register notices concerning field release of PMPs and PMIPs and consider both the unprecedented volume of responses and their content, which reveals public and industry debate in terms of how to define science, governmental trust, and emotional response to the new technologies. We conclude by considering implications for not only PMPs and PMIPs, but also agricultural biotechnology in general.
Key words: Agricultural biotechnology, Federal Register, plantmade industrial products (PMIP), plant-made pharmaceuticals (PMP), public opinion, risk