Arntzen is the founding Director of the Arizona Biomedical Institute (ABI) at Arizona State University (ASU). The ABI forms a key means of achieving the ASU's goal of facilitating interactions with Arizona's biotechnology industrial base, and of dramatically expanding the ASU's external funding in areas like biotechnology. The ASU wants a particular focus on high-payoff areas that will help to expand economic development for the State's biotech sector.
Arntzen was previously the former President and CEO of the Boyce Thompson Institute for Plant Research, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.
Arntzen specialises in edible vaccines genetically engineered into food plants such as tomatoes, bananas and potatoes.
Arntzen has bred potatoes that express Norwalk virus and E. coli antigens. Human test subjects have been fed the potatoes raw, because cooking might damage the antigen, even though cooking is normally considered necessary to render harmless the high levels of natural toxins that can occur in potatoes.
It also remains unclear how much vaccine a person would need to eat to ensure protection and how often, nor is it known how to avoid overdosing, or what side effects such as allergies may arise.
Like other plant biotechnologists, Arntzen has also found unexplained effects within plants he has genetically engineered. (Newsweek International, January 28, 2002)
In 1999 Arntzen attacked US company Frito Lay for bowing to consumer demands to make their snacks GM-free. Arntzen warned that consumers would boycott Frito Lay in punishment for denigrating GM 'crops that are helping make American agriculture more competitive on a global scale' (Top Producer magazine, December 1999). US farm exports have suffered multi-million dollar losses since the introduction of GM crops.