Union of Concerned Scientists Says No to GMO Corn for Biofuel
March 03, 2009
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Corn-based ethanol has fallen from favor in the past year amid reports that corn ethanol has a heavier carbon footprint than originally thought. Now a new debate looms over whether the U.S. should allow genetically altered corn to be grown for use as biofuel.
The Union of Concerned Scientists says no, arguing that genetically modified corn will inevitably mix with and contaminate corn grown for food products. Syngenta, a multi-national company that has readied a new genetically modified corn intended for ethanol production, has already applied for permission to sell its corn seed in the U.S., telling officials that it would control where the crops are grown so the GMO corn would not mix with the food supply.
Their newly developed “Corn Amylase” contains a protein that breaks down corn starch under high temperatures and could reduce the cost of ethanol production. The new protein has not been present in the food system, and would not have to be approved for human consumption.
If Syngenta’s voluntary methods of keeping the corn out of the food supply fail, people could be unwittingly exposed to the new protein, which is derived from organisms living near hot sea vents.
For these reasons, the Union of Concerned Scientists has urged the USDA to ban outdoor production of the new corn, as well as “any other food crop genetically engineered to produce pharmaceutical or industrial substances.”
Vote with Your Pocketbook, Every Day
The food companies on the left of this graphic spent tens of millions of dollars in the last two labeling campaigns—in California and Washington State - to prevent you from knowing what’s in your food. You can even the score by switching to the brands on the right; all of whom stood behind the I-522 Right to Know campaign. Voting with your pocketbook, at every meal, matters. It makes a huge difference.
I encourage you to continue educating yourself about genetically engineered foods, and to share what you’ve learned with family and friends. Remember, unless a food is certified organic, you can assume it contains GMO ingredients if it contains sugar from sugar beets, soy, or corn, or any of their derivatives.
If you buy processed food, opt for products bearing the USDA 100% Organic label, as certified organics do not permit GMO’s. You can also print out and use the Non-GMO Shopping Guide, created by the Institute for Responsible Technology. Share it with your friends and family, and post it to your social networks. Alternatively, download their free iPhone application, available in the iTunes store. You can find it by searching for ShopNoGMO in the applications. For more in-depth information, I highly recommend reading the following two books, authored by Jeffrey Smith, the executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology:
For timely updates, join the Non-GMO Project on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.
Please, do your homework. Together, we have the power to stop the biotech industry from destroying our food supply, the future of our children, and the earth as a whole. All we need is about five percent of American shoppers to simply stop buying genetically engineered foods, and the food industry would have to reconsider their source of ingredients—regardless of whether the products bear an actual GMO label or not.