K. H. Ginzel, MD
June 10, 1998
K.H. Ginzel, M.D. (email@example.com),
is Professor Emeritus of
Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Arkansas for Medical
Sciences. Other papers by Dr. Ginzel are in this web site.
Among the uncertainties in the unfolding scenario of tobacco legislation is the future of tobacco farmers whose livelihood could be threatened by a declining market of conventional tobacco products. Despite various proposals, not a single mention has been made that, even in the event of a future smokeless society, tobacco farming can be preserved, albeit in a modified fashion.
The new kind of harvest would be protein that sustains life, rather than smoking or chewing tobacco that harms and kills. Young tobacco plants, containing only negligible traces of nicotine similar to those found in tomatoes, yield the most superior plant protein known. In its functional characteristics, it surpasses even animal proteins from egg white or milk, is not allergenic, and possesses an optimal amino acid composition which lowers cholesterol. Without color or taste, it can become a unique source of nutritional protein as well as of valuable medicinal products.
As early as in 1981, the World Health Organizations Farm Bureau (FAO) heralded the future prospect of tobacco as "one of the world's principal sources of protein for human consumption and livestock feed," echoing optimistic reports about the commercial feasibility of a protein extraction process initiated in 1979 as a joint venture between the North Carolina Farm Bureau Federation and General Foods. Grown for food, tobacco plants can be more densely spaced and generate about four times as much protein per acre as soybeans or corn, yielding a monetary return far exceeding that of corn.
Despite its promise, the pilot project did not survive the apparent scrutiny by those who had a vested interest in the exclusive use of tobacco for smoking and chewing, cigarettes being the most lucrative commodity traded on world markets. In the process, the general public, the farm community, and the legislators have been kept ignorant about the life-giving aspects of the tobacco plant. None of the players in the current congressional debate has yet suggested to explore what may be the most attractive option for domestic and global tobacco growers and the people of the planet as a whole.
If the federal subsidy for tobacco farmers and the remarkable chemical expertise of the tobacco industry, which has analyzed hundreds of natural tobacco components and additives during the past 40 years, were combined in a joint effort, they could help transform tobacco farming into the planet's grandest protein production, capable of feeding a protein-starved third world.
Tobacco can both nurture
and kill; it just depends on the choice that we make.
See these other papers by Dr. K. H. Ginzel:After Some 100 Million Deaths -- What's Next?
Can Children Stop Big Tobacco?, A School Project
Workplaces and Public Places Must be Made Smokefree
Protein, An Alternative Tobacco Crop
K. H. Ginzel, MD
Professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology Emeritus