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Senior Contributor

USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

What do you think of the USDA approval of a corn promoted by Syngenta as favorable for ethanol production?  Syngenta "genetically modified its corn line to make an enzyme called alpha-amylase. The new corn, which Syngenta calls Enogen, is designed to be used by producers of ethanol-fuel, which turn corn into alcohol through fermentation ..."  FDA approved the corn for human consumption in 2007, but the enzymen doesn't play well in food processors factories and they want it segregated.

Syngenta claims it will stay segregated by raising it away from food processing plants and by using grower contracts.

 

I don't know how much trouble this corn will cause the food industry.  Apparently it is not a food safety issue but a food processing issue, as I understand it.  1 kernel in 10,000 can distrupt the current starch processing procedure under certain conditions.  FDA says it is safe to eat.

 

The idea that the corn will stay segregated is hysterical.   Remember StarLink?  First, combines going from one field to another are virtually impossible to completely clean out.  Different trucks will inevitably have a few Enogen kernels after they dump that crop.  And, like StarLink, we farmers can claim that WE would never sell corn to the wrong channel, but some farmers certainly did in 2000.  So, I say it is very unlikely that the product can stay perfectly segregated.

 

Looks to me like a big bruhaha coming up.

 

Edit:  Oops, I see there's already a story on the site about it.  Here it is:

http://www.agriculture.com/news/technology/feds-ok-etholspecific-cn-trait_6-ar14617

 

 

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5 Replies
Veteran Advisor

Re: USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

Jim I am getting real concerend about how corn companies are going to keep all the trait stacks segregated. I am also worried about cross pollination of corn crops. As a livestock guy in ethol country what happens if I get some cron that is planted across the fence by a neighbor that isn't approved by fda for use in human food that gets into my milking herd which shows up in some milk product? Who is liable?  Am I going to have to go over to my neighbors soon and get them to vedrify thier corn hybrids so as to keep mine uncontaminated? WIll I have the authority and legal right to dictate to them what crop hybrids they can plant? This is gonna get very interesting very soon. I think Organic farmers are already faced with these issues. 

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Frequent Contributor

Re: USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

Jim,  

Where did you get your info about the food processing problems the new Syngenta corn creates?     

 

Just wondering how significant the problems are and the economic ramifications  for food processors.   We need more facts about this before drawing any conclusions. 

 

 

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Senior Contributor

Re: USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

What corn is not suitable for food?  I guess I don't know of any (StarLink is behind us).  I'm not sure I care if the food companies can keep the corn traits separated or not.  FDA approved the Syngenta corn for food back in 2007.

 

From what I can tell, the food processor companies are miffed because the amylase enzyme in the Enegon messes up their current milling procedure.  It dosn't hurt the corn for food or feed value, just makes POET Biorefinery more money and General Mills less money.

 

Sources are in the popular press.  Search on Enegon and Syngenta biotech corn will reveal quite a few sources.

 

Here's a quote from the Des Moines Register, "Corn chips that could crumble in the bag. Cereal that's soggy before you can get it to your mouth.

The companies that mill corn into food products claim they could face problems like those should the government allow biotech giant Syngenta Seeds Inc. to commercialize a new variety of corn. The corn was engineered to cut the cost and greenhouse gas emissions of making ethanol."

 

You note that in that article, and every other I have read, there is no pronouncement that the amylase corn is not safe for consumption.

 

 

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Veteran Advisor

Re: USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

Jim I am just thinking that as we increase our ability to test in ever minute quanitties I just wonder when GOv. will go over that line in the sand which says now corn is gonna be harmeful. Years ago we could use banamine which is basiclly a pain killer in our cows with no withdrawl. Now we can't sell a cow who has had ashot within two weeks!  So I just wonder how long before we take these traits to the level that some are deemed harmful to humans.  I don't believe this is one of those.

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Senior Contributor

Re: USDA approves biotech Syngenta corn

Testing is a good question, JR.  No matter what they can test, another aspect is the sample.  We've all heard of a rejected truck getting back in line and passing the second test.

 

Of course, as fancy tests get done, then who controls the tester?  I imagine a lot of advocacy groups would like to get their hands on tests and claim they found bad products.

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