Genetically Modified Plants: For human and environmental health

Most of us probably know that transgenic plants are those GMOs (genetically modified organisms) that we already have on our tables and many of us are not sure how safe they are.

The generation of transgenic plants for food is just one of many applications.

Among the others are the uses of transgenic approaches for pharmaceutical production (new drug discovery, plant vaccines and antibodies); for biomonitoring environmental pollution; for cleaning polluted soil and water; as well as uses of modified plants in the construction industry (better lumber) or as ornamentals (huge variety of colors and shapes).

It is these non-food uses which will be discussed.

Speakers: Drs. Olga and Igor Kovalchuk, Assistant Professors in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Lethbridge.

Currently, Olga is working on the identification of new pharmaceutical compounds from various native plants; her specific interest is anticancer and anti-inflammatory activities. Igor continues to work on bio-monitoring as well as on the improvement of methods for the generation of transgenic plants.

In the past, in Switzerland and in their native Ukraine, Olga and Igor generated transgenic plants for monitoring environmental pollution; these plants could detect low levels of radiation contamination (e.g. Chernobyl), heavy metals and pesticides.

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