Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Garden Path

As a joint venture with Cargill, Monsanto has come up with a genetically engineered corn that contains elevated levels of the amino acid lysine. Apparently, when this corn is cooked, the lysine reacts with sugars to produce advanced glycation endproducts (AGEs) that pose problems for diabetics and pre-diabetics, and are implicated in other serious diseases.

The corn is strictly intended as livestock feed (lysine increases the conversion of feed to meat, allowing farmers to reduce the protein level in feed). And by "strictly," of course, I mean "technically":

Even though Monsanto states that LY038 is intended only for animal feed, they made application for approval as a human food so they do not have to keep the altered corn separate from edible corn.
Also, it seems that no one has bothered to perform safety tests on the cooked corn, an oversight which is causing some alarm in New Zealand:
The Centre for Research in Biosafety (INBI) is urging the food standards agency to reconsider its draft recommendation to approve a new type of GM corn. INBI has recommended that Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) should not approve Monsanto’s genetically modified high-lysine LY038 corn until further safety studies have been conducted....INBI recommends that safety studies be conducted using GM corn that has been cooked and processed as it is in human food.
Sounds reasonable to me. And as we so often hear these days, the innocent have noithing to fear.


roger said...

i will quote myself, as it seems applicable. "science marches on, but not always forward."

chicago dyke said...

i blogged that at corrente.

nice catch.

dan mcenroe said...

they made application for approval as a human food so they do not have to keep the altered corn separate from edible corn.

does this mean they will be grown in the same fields, or that monsanto will be spared the expense of preventing cross-pollination, or both? yikes.

dizzy said...

On a related note --

Of the 45,000 items in the average American supermarket, 1/4 of them contain corn in one form or another. Berkeley biologist Todd Dawson tells Pollan, "When you look at the isotope ratios" — foods reduced to their chemical components — "we North Americans look like corn chips with legs."

The ascendancy of corn in the national diet — which has everything to do with economics and nothing to do with nutrition — has upended the natural order and created problems.

Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Phila said...

DPR: Well said.

ChiDyke: Thanks! BTW, I can't seem to comment over at your place...what am I doing wrong?

Dan: Good question.

Dizzy: Agreed. And enough people have recommended that book that I'm definitely going to have to read it.

bamboochik said...

Another point to consider is, when we humans consume the meat and or milk from these cattle, what does the genetically altered corn do to our own bodies????? Man had better stop playing "God" before we are all destroyed.