Here they go again, tinkering with the genetics of one of our food sources for the benefit of corporations. A new genetically modified corn has been approved for use in the United States by the Department of Agriculture. In addition the FDA has also certified it safe for human consumption. It has already been approved for use in Canada and Japan among a number of other countries.
Manufactured by the Swiss company Syngenta, the corn named Enogen contains a microbial gene which causes it to produce the enzyme alpha-amylase, a compound which currently must be added to the corn during the fermentation process to produce ethanol. The presence of the enzyme in the corn at the time of milling jump starts the process of turning the starch to sugar.
Not everybody is happy about this - from the New York Times:
The decision, announced Friday, came in the face of objections from corn millers and others in the food industry, who warned that if the industrial corn cross-pollinated with or were mixed with corn used for food, it could lead to crumbly corn chips, soggy cereal, loaves of bread with soupy centers and corn dogs with inadequate coatings.The North American Millers’ Association, representing 43 companies including General Mills and Con-Agra, also claims that Syngenta's own research shows that as little as one kernel of Enogen in 10,000 normal kernels could weaken the corn starch enough to interfere with food processing operations. They are also fearful of recalls and distribution disruptions should it enter the food stream.
“If this corn is comingled with other corn, it will have significant adverse impacts on food product quality and performance,” the North American Millers’ Association said in a statement on Friday.
The Union of Concerned Scientists is also worried:
“This is StarLink all over again,” said Margaret Mellon of the Union of Concerned Scientists. She was referring to the situation in 2000 when a genetically modified corn approved only for animal use got into the human food supply, prompting huge recalls and disrupting American exports.The Center for Food Safety is also preparing to sue:
The group persuaded a court to temporarily revoke the approvals of the biotech alfalfa and sugar beets because the Agriculture Department had not done a full environmental impact statement. The department, which has been reviewing Syngenta’s application since 2005, did not prepare such a statement for Syngenta’s corn.In the end the supposed benefits of this product, an 8% increase in production and 8% decrease in natural gas consumption are certainly not worth the risk.
It's time to go back to whole, organic foods and stop mutating our food sources!