BACKGROUND Agricultural biotechnology, including the generation of genetically modified food crops, has been the subject of much controversy over the last few years. Initially serving the basic needs of farmers, Ag Biotech has more recently gained much appeal for its opportunities with respect to both the nutritional and pharmaceutical sciences. METHODS The following review describes a number of recently approved patents that could have direct implications for the field of medicine. Topics range from the development of pharmaceuticals in plants using hairy roots or virus expression vectors, to the role of epigenetics for improving the nutritional value of food crops. RESULTS Many of these patents were developed by smaller companies or publically funded research institutes, disproving the perception that intellectual property in Ag Biotech is restricted to only large multinational corporations. CONCLUSION The review concludes with a discussion of the future of these technologies in the face of the current negative political climate.