Crops are presently exploited for the economic production of materials like carbohydrates, lipids and proteins for e.g. food, feed, or processing industries. The designed modification of plants by genetic engineering has opened up the possibility to broaden this range of products. The number of novel compounds successfully produced in plants using this “molecular farming” approach is steadily increasing, and includes carbohydrates, fatty acids, biodegradable plastics, high-value pharmaceutical (poly)peptides and industrial enzymes.
The technical feasibility of producing active industrial enzymes in plants at a relatively high level has been demonstrated. The use of seeds as the formulation and delivery vehicle for the enzymes greatly enhances the economic competitiveness of plants as a source of industrial enzymes. This novel concept exploits the fact that many plants and plant organs are or can be a component in industrial processes, animal feed and human food.