Plant molecular farming in the wake of the closure of Medicago Inc

Plant molecular farming, which includes the production of recombinant proteins and small molecules using plant biotechnology, could provide a step change in improving health outcomes, particularly in developing countries1,2. This field was recently surprised by the announcement that the Canadian biotechnology company Medicago has ceased operations owing to the termination of investment by its parent company3. Medicago has been a pioneer and a leader in the commercial development of plant molecular farming, particularly vaccine production by transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana (tobacco). A key contribution of Medicago to the COVID-19 pandemic response was the licensing in Canada of a virus-like particle vaccine (Covifenz) in under 24 months from initial design. While some may be concerned that the closure of this company will be a major step back for the entire field, the International Society for Plant Molecular Farming does not believe this closure to be a serious indictment of the technology, nor should it have a significant impact on future endeavors.