By Aaron Dykes and Melissa Melton
Related: Edible Vaccines and Flying Syringes
Professor, inventor and genetic engineer responds to overpopulation questions by quipping: “Has anybody seen ‘Contagion’? That’s the answer! Go out and use genetic engineering to create a better virus”
During a discussion panel in Arizona State University’s Biotech department that took place on February 2, 2012, the inventor of genetically engineered edible vaccines joked about wiping out 25% of the population with a genetically engineered virus.
Dr. Charles Arntzen, head of The Biodesign Institute for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology, responded to a question pertaining to whether feeding the 8 billion people of the world was worth it, or whether population reduction should be pursued.
The scientist quipped:
“Has anybody seen ‘Contagion’? That’s the answer! Go out and use genetic engineering to create a better virus… 25 percent of the population is supposed to go in Contagion.”
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Arntzen was the first to pursue an edible vaccine for use in the developing world while at the Boyce Thompson Institute in 1996 under funding from the Rockefeller Foundation. His signature delivery vehicle is the banana. He noted the possibilities for its use in both poor countries as well as the wealthier Western world:
“Children of developing countries may not be the only beneficiaries of this new technology. Says Arntzen: ‘American kids will also probably prefer being vaccinated by an edible vaccine rather than by a needle.’”