Bioreactors -- The Phuture of Pharming Phase II

What you see pictured above is a bioreactor (it is sometimes spelled bio-reactor). You have heard of nuclear reactors. This one represents the future of farming, and feeding us human beings.

A bioreactor is a series of chambers filled with nutrient fluids that grows plant cells. It provides an incubator to host, nuture, grow and mature plant cells without the bother of the rest of the plant and the support systems.

Let me give you an example of how a bioreactor would work. I live in the tropics. They were originally called the spice islands because spices grow in the tropics. Spices are found in specific parts of the plant. The plant is grown, harvested, dried and processed to get the spices. That is the old way.

The new way is to isolate the cells in the plant that produces the flavours and essential oils. You do this by sending the appropriate parts of the living plant through a blender. The cells are all broken up. You introduce this slurry of cells into a bioreactor. The fluid or matrix in the bioreactor contains nutrients, enzymes and catalysts, causing the cells to multiply and grow. You no longer need the whole plant. You don't need roots, flowers, stems, leaves and the life support systems. The bioreactor provides that.

The cells multiply, mature and grow, and produce the essential oils and flavours. Once they are ready, the cells are centrifuged away from the nutrient fluid, and dried and processed as regular spices. Because you do not need bothersome roots, soil, leaves, stems, etc, you can devote more resources to just growing what you want out of the spice plant. You can grow a whole field of spices in a small room because you have just dispensed with the plant.

Bioreactors will grow the cells that produce the carbohydrates in wheat, the starch in potatoes, the sugar in sugar beets and emulate virtually anything grown using traditional methods now.

I am willing to bet that the pioneers of the bioreactors will be the guys growing pot.

The image for this blog entry comes from:

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