Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

From food to fuel, concerns grow about impact of GM corn

The Sydney Morning Herald
by Suzanne Goldenberg
August 17, 2011

WASHINGTON: United States farmers are growing the first corn plants genetically modified for the purpose of putting more ethanol in petrol tanks rather than producing more food.

Aid organisations warn the GM corn could worsen a global food crisis exposed by the famine in Somalia by diverting more corn into energy production.

The food industry also opposes the new product because, although not inedible, it is unsuitable for use in the manufacture of food products that commonly use corn. Farmers growing corn for human consumption are also concerned about cross-contamination. The corn, developed by a branch of the Swiss pesticide firm Syngenta, contains an added gene for an enzyme (amylase) that speeds the breakdown of starches into ethanol. Ethanol plants normally have to add the enzyme to corn when making ethanol.

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