Tuesday, December 03, 2002

Corn News
The Prodigene corn you almost ate probably produced one of these things:
an AIDS vaccine which some researchers think may actually suppress immune response, a blood clotting agent which causes pancreatic disease in lab animals, an asthma-inducing digestive enzyme used in pharmaceutical processing, or an industrial adhesive.
according to Brandon Keim from CRG. Processors are not amused
John Cady, the president and chief executive officer of the National Food Processors Association, says that �it is nothing short of alarming to know that, at the earliest stages of the development of crops for plant-made pharmaceuticals, the most basic preventive measures were not faithfully observed.�

Monsanto scientists have published the results of a nutritional comparison between real and transgenic [NK603] corn in J. Agricultural and Food Chem. Not surprisingly, they found them "substantially equivalent":

A majority of the amino acids in corn event NK603 were comparable to the control in the 1999 field trials. However, small statistically significant differences (1.1-6.4%) were observed for alanine, arginine, glutamic acid, histidine, lysine, and methionine (p < 0.05). No differences were found for these amino acids in the 1998 field trials, and in all cases the range of values found for corn event NK603 fell within the 99% tolerance interval for conventional commercial varieties grown in the same field trials (Table 3). These results demonstrate, with a confidence level of 95%, that the levels of these amino acids were within the same population as those of nontransgenic, commercially available corn hybrids.
I would only point out that our understanding of nutrition is, uh, rudimentary at best, and a comparable range for 51 compounds, though significant, is hardly comprehensive. But there is no basis for assuming that the corn is poisonous, as certain people have done.

Second generation "stacked protein" corn is about to hit the market. No sign of anything more than insect resistance. But wheat is about to get medieval: "Other aspects of biotech wheat that Monsanto is working on... include a drought resistant wheat, adding omega 3 fatty acids into grain taken from algae plants in the oceans that fish feed on, and injecting Vitamin A into grain to help people with that deficiency in many countries." Even though the farmers want nothing to do with it, and there is no market for it...

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