Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/1/2014
Publication Date: 7/15/2014
Citation: Auld, D.L., Trostle, C.L., Miller, T.D., He, X., Duncan, R.W. 2014. Risk of ricin from commercial castor production in North America. Cherwonogrodky, J.W., editor. Ricin Toxin. Oak Park, Illinois:Bentham Science. p. 86-97. Interpretive Summary: The castor plant Ricinus communis L. is a key chemical feedstock for an array of products from polymers to cosmetics. The annual worldwide production of castor beans is over one million tons. Although it was once widely grown throughout the world, the presence of the toxic protein ricin has deterred the re-introduction of this useful crop. This book chapter summarizes (1) the current castor production in US; (2) genetic approaches used to obtain low ricin castor plants; (3) recommendations for safe production, processing, and transportation of castor and castor by-products.
Technical Abstract: Commercial production of castor, as a source of highly valuable hydroxyl fatty acids, has been limited by both the real and perceived risks of commercial castor production in North America. Crop commodity groups, regulatory governmental agencies, and much of the general public may have reservations about the large scale production of an oilseed crop which produces a seed meal with high concentrations of the toxin ricin as an accidental contaminant in feed grains or human food commodities, and as a potential source of chemical weapons by terrorist organizations. A successful castor industry in North America has to provide assurance that castor production will not impact the quality of existing crop commodities or create public safety concerns. Both the genetic detoxification of castor seed and the development of vertically integrated production systems, to functionally isolate castor seed and its commercial products, are being developed by researchers in Texas and California.