The USDA has hurried to approve yet another GM crop — a variety of GM corn called Enogen. That makes three GM crops the USDA has hastily rushed to approve in the last two weeks.
But there is a stunning difference in this particular GM crop: Enogen GM corn is one of the first crops genetically engineered to contain a trait that influences the use of the plant after harvest. Until now, virtually all GM crops possessed insect and herbicide-resistant traits only.
According to the NYTimes, Enogen corn contains a microbial gene that causes it to produce an enzyme that breaks down corn starch into sugar, the first step toward making ethanol.
Read more here includes link to N.Y. times story.
Enogen Corn Amylase Event 3272
from Novel Food Information; Health Canada:
The alpha-amylase enzyme expressed in event 3272 is a chimeric enzyme derived from three wild-type alpha-amylases isolated from the archaeal order Thermococcales. Gene reassembly was performed using the three wild-type genes as a parental sequence to produce chimeric alpha-amylase genes. A screening strategy was designed to identify a chimeric alpha-amylase with increased thermostability and activity during the high temperatures required for starch hydrolysis in dry-grind ethanol production from corn grain. The introduction of the thermostable alpha-amylase gene into corn will replace the need to add supplemental microbially-produced amylase in the production of ethanol derived from corn.
Mary Waters, President of North America Miller's Association says:
Syngenta's 3272 Amylase Corn Trait contains a powerful enzyme that breaks down the starch in corn rapidly, a cost saving function for ethanol production. If it should enter the food processing stream, the same function that benefits ethanol production will damage the quality of food products like breakfast cereals, snack foods, and battered products.
Link to NAMA's petition to the USDA on Enogen 3272 Amylase Corn
Union of Concerned Scientists writes:
Deregulating Genetically Engineered Industrial Corn Will Contaminate Food Supply Corn and Harm U.S. Food Industry
WASHINGTON (February 11, 2011) – Over the objections of scientists, food millers and food processors, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced it will deregulate the first genetically engineered industrial corn crop, commonly called ethanol corn. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), allowing farmers to plant engineered ethanol corn will contaminate corn intended for food, which could have serious consequences for the U.S. food industry.