Potato as Neutraceutical

Will eating potato salad replace vaccines?

Future delivery of vaccines to promote people’s resistance to diseases may not be through a needle and syringe. It may be through eating genetically-modified (GMO) fruits and vegetables, especially the potato. Neutraceuticals are defined as foods producing high levels of a substance(s) promoting good health.

Pass the potato vaccine, please.

Boyce-Thompson Institute at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, developed a GMO-potato with a genetic makeup to give immunity against the Norwalk virus, a major food-borne illness. The Norwalk virus is responsible for 90% of the world’s viral diarrhea. (“Runs” in the future may mean get to a potato.)

In other research at the Institute, a GMO-potato was developed against hepatitis B in mice. The potato vaccine did not breakdown in the stomach and activated antibiotic production. Being inside the potato cells, the antigen responsible for the immunization was not destroyed by the gastric juices.

In the last couple of years, this anti-hepatitis B GMO-potato was grown in Wisconsin by an ag-technology company, Ag-Tec International, for testing. This is the first-ever large-scale crop being produced as a pharmaceutical. Ag-Tec Int. has developed tapid multiplication minituber technology to grow potato vaccines (“quantum tubers”). This technology allows for pathogen-free, harvestable tubers in 40-50 days followed by two field generations for commercial quantities of seed potato.

Potato vaccines would provide a cheap and painless medicine that would be easily delivered and stored. Research on potato vaccines is on the fore-front of these developments -- Medical Agriculture. “If I were a grower, I’d be really watching what’s happening. Things are changing,” said Dr. Kent Bradford, Director of the Seed Biotechnology Center at the Univ. California - Davis.

Imagine eating a potato to negate the effects of a bio-terror attack.