New health threat from tobacco: Researchers plan to grow it for producing vaccines and new pharma drugs

The European Union is reportedly funding research designated as the NEWCOTIANA project that will turn tobacco plants into so-called biofactories to develop vaccines and new drugs. Scientists intend to breed new kinds of tobacco that will supposedly contain health-promoting substances. The effort also could revitalize tobacco farming and thus economic conditions in rural areas, according to its proponents.

The AlphaGalileo website explains that researchers from eight European countries plan to use “New Plant Breeding Techniques” in this approximately $9 million initiative.

Instead of cultivating the leaves to make cigarettes, researchers have found promising ways to turn tobacco leaves into factories for medical, pharmaceutical and cosmetic products using a range of non-GM technologies, collectively known as New Plant Breeding Techniques. Taking advantage of these cutting-edge breeding techniques which include CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, researchers aim to develop new varieties of tobacco and its wild relative Nicotiana benthamiana to produce compounds such as antibodies, vaccines and medicines in a sustainable manner.

One scientist claims that the project will transform tobacco from an enemy to a friend.

Several pharmaceutical companies are also conducting experiments into producing a flu vaccine from tobacco plants — rather than via the much-slower, conventional egg process — including a Canadian biotech firm in which Phillip Morris has a 40 percent stake and Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation owns 60 percent. A vaccine of this kind could reach the market in 2019. The worldwide market for flu shots is estimated to be worth nearly $40 billion.

Natural News has previously reported the push for flu vaccine inoculations is primarily economic and political rather than based on solid medical evidence. Against that backdrop, in January, CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald stepped own after information surfaced that she bought tobacco stocks and Big Pharma stocks. (Related: Read more about the prescription drug industry at

Back in 2005, Health Ranger Mike Adams, the founding editor of Natural News, opined that Big Pharma and Big Tobacco share many similarities, none of which are good. Common sense would not indicate that Big Tobacco generally is trying to diversify beyond cigarettes, given all that has occurred over the years on the legal and regulatory front, such as the $246 billion Master Settlement Agreement in 1998 between the four largest tobacco companies and the attorney generals of 46 states.

Considering all the side effects attendant to existing prescription medications, do you think a joint venture between Big Tobacco and Big Pharma to develop new vaccines and drugs will end well for the consumer and/or healthcare in general?

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