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The Need to Regulate Home-brew Morphine?

Researchers from the University of California, Berkeley, and Canada's Concordia University have successfully engineered yeast to produce (S)-reticuline, a key precursor to morphine. The research is highlighted in an article published on the May 18, 2015, online edition of the The New York Times (A Way to Brew Morphine Raises Concern Over Regulation). 

This discovery has sparked a wide debate between biotechnology experts who think that yeast engineered to produce opioids necessitates new restrictions on DNA research, and those who claim that any restrictions to DNA research are destined to fail. An expert, quoted in the article, argued that this technology is of more use to the heroin trade than the pharmaceutical industry. According to the expert, an engineered morphine producing yeast strain would eliminate a heroin trafficker's need to smuggle raw heroin materials, which often come from disparate regions of the world. Pharmaceutical companies, the expert asserts, have less need for this new technology as a result of already having cost-effective opium supply options, and the ability to synthesize opiates in their labs.
A spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) commented that his agency did not perceive an immediate threat from this technology since modified yeast strains that produce opiates have yet to become commonly available. The DEA spokesman added that DEA laboratories would be able to identify heroin produced from bioengineered yeast.
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