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U.S. farmers grow world's first ethanol producing GM corn used to fill gas tanks

By Daily Mail Reporter on August 16, 2011
© Daily Mail

U.S. farmers are the first to grow genetically modified corn capable of producing ethanol used to fill vehicle gas tanks.

The corn, which is grown in Kansas under the brand name 'Enogen', contains an added gene that makes the plants produce amylase - an enzyme that aids the breakdown of starch into ethanol.

The development has drawn widespread criticism from food groups and aid organisations who say the new crop will divert resources away from already stretched world-wide corn supplies, leading to spikes in the cost of grain.

The pilot scheme covers 5000 acres and planting follows the modified crop's approval by the US Department of Agriculture last February.

But while makers Syngenta say Enogen will require less processing for farmers, campaigners say the new plant threatens to jack up the price of food around the world.

Speaking to the Guardian, Todd Post of aid organisation Bread for the World said: 'The temptation to look at food as another form of fuel to use for the energy crisis will exacerbate the food crisis.'

The comment follows data released by international bodies suggesting the use of crop land to produce biofuels has already led to a significant rise in the price of grain.

Food companies have also warned of potential cross contamination with other, non genetically modified crops.

Enogen is currently banned from being imported to The European Union, South Korea, and South Africa.

After Kansas, Syngenta will plant crops in Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, and southwest Minnesota.

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