Plants have emerged as commercially relevant production systems for pharmaceutical and nonpharmaceutical products. Currently, the commercially available nonpharmaceutical products outnumber the medical products of plant molecular farming, reflecting the shorter development times and lower regulatory burden of the former. Nonpharmaceutical products benefit more from the low costs and greater scalability of plant production systems without incurring the high costs associated with downstream processing and purification of pharmaceuticals.
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In this review, we explore the areas where plant-based manufacturing can make the greatest impact, focusing on commercialized products such as antibodies, enzymes, and growth factors that are used as research–grade or diagnostic reagents, cosmetic ingredients, and biosensors or biocatalysts. An outlook is provided on high-volume, low-margin proteins such as industrial enzymes that can be applied as crude extracts or unprocessed plant tissues in the feed, biofuel, and papermaking industries.