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Growing GMOs Underground: SubTerra Protects their Medicinal Plants

Underground GMO growers are keeping their projects top secret. Underground GMO growers are keeping their projects top secret.


Many indoor growers have dreamed about hiding their grow rooms far below the earth’s surface. This would, of course, increase security, but also give the grower better control over the environment and reduce potentially harmful outside influences, like insects or other pathogens.

A plant-based pharmaceutical company by the name of SubTerra LLC (http://www.subterrallc.com/) is taking the grower’s daydream and making it a reality in their underground growing facility.

An abandoned mine in White Pine, MI was the perfect place for SubTerra to set up shop. There they specialize in transforming plants into production systems for complex, life-saving biopharmaceuticals.

The reasons for SubTerra’s underground growing differs somewhat from that of the grower of high-value crops. Beyond ultimate control over the growing environment and the elimination of pests, growing underground offers protection from intellectual espionage.

The facility meets USDA regulations and has been issued a level 2 containment rating, the second highest possible containment rating.

SubTerra specializes in growing GMO plants specifically for pharmaceutical purposes. As I was told when I asked to tour the facility, containment of germplasm (genetic material) is a huge priority at SubTerra. One of the most daunting problems for the competitive plant-based pharmaceutical industry is the containment of germplasm.

I guess they thought I was after some germplasm because I was denied access and was told that there was no possible way I could ever view the growing facility. I wasn’t really upset. I understand that they are a secure facility. Plus, indoor horticulturists understand that not showing anyone your indoor garden is the best security for yourself and your indoor garden.

An underground growing facility is not only better protected from thieves but also from accidental leaks of genetic material by birds or insects. SubTerra’s growth and production sites are so far removed from any agricultural activity that there is no risk of unintended genetic release.

The facility meets USDA regulations and has been issued a level 2 containment rating (the second highest possible containment rating).

SubTerra has one more reason to take their plants underground: to offer their clients protection from eco-terrorists or groups against GMOs. With increasing claims that GMOs are detrimental to health, companies like SubTerra are more likely to become a target for anti-GMO groups.

Personally, I am not a GMO fan. I refuse to eat them and I would, most likely, refuse to take medication made from GMOs. I will say, however, that if we are going to be messing around with GMOs, I think biopharmaceuticals is an area that we could gain some benefit. Plants offer a safer and more ethical advantage over animal synthesis, which is a common alternative in creating some of the complex proteins found in SubTerra’s gardens.

I also think that if we are going to be growing GMOs, I would prefer they were grown and processed deep underground in an old mine rather than on the earth’s surface where they can potentially contaminate our non-GMO crops.

GMOs or not, SubTerra has a unique niche in the realm of indoor horticulture and has found a way to maximize control and the protection of their crops.

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Last modified on Thursday, 23 May 2013 04:47

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