Friday, January 16, 2009

Corn to feed your car?

Bleatings from EnviRambo.

I am calling on your superhero powers to please take action on this matter. Click the link at the bottom of this post, fill in your name and email address, and urge the USDA to rethink its "Food for Fuel" Policy.

USDA is poised to deregulate the world's first genetically engineered (GE) industrial crop. Similar to GE pharma crops that use corn for producing drugs, Syngenta's "Event 3272" is genetically engineered to use corn for energy (ethanol) production and not for food. This unprecedented, industrial application of a GE technology poses a variety of environmental, health, and economic risks that must be carefully evaluated to determine whether the widespread use of this GE industrial corn crop should be allowed on farms across our nation.

Event 3272 corn:

  • Raises serious environmental and human health concerns. It contains an exotic enzyme derived from "thermophilic" (heat-loving) microorganisms living near deep sea hydrothermal vents. This enzyme might be capable of causing food allergies in people who inadvertently consume this corn. Humans have never been exposed to this form of alpha amylase before (no history of safe use).
  • While meant for fuel and not food, this corn will enter the food supply. USDA admits that if Event 3272 corn is intentionally or accidentally diverted into the food supply, it could negatively impact food quality. But instead of reviewing the foreseeable negative impacts of biological contamination to organic and conventional corn from this unprecedented new industrial crop, USDA has improperly relied on Syngenta, the creator of the GE corn, to protect non-industrial corn from contamination. If we learned anything from the StarLink episode, it is that voluntary, industry-led agreements to curtail contamination do not work in the real world.

  • Is not needed "to help the U.S. meet its goals for ethanol production" as USDA has erroneously suggested. Ethanol production from corn surpassed the 2012 target (7.5 billion gallons) in 2007 (8.2 billion gallons)! And with 10 billion gallons of ethanol produced in 2008, we're well on the way to achieving the mandate for 2022 without the introduction of Event 3272 corn.

  • Is engineered for fuel, not food. The dramatic worldwide surge in food prices last year--which has already pushed 100 million more of the world's poor into hunger and poverty--has caused a radical rethinking of how biofuels are produced, especially the use of corn for ethanol. Food experts from academia to the World Bank have decried the massive diversion of corn from food to fuel, blaming it for at least part of the steep price increases in food staples like corn, wheat and rice. Event 3272 corn will only exacerbate this situation.
The USDA is accepting public comments on its cursory impacts assessment of the corn until January 20th. The Obama Administration’s USDA could then approve the corn or postpone any final decision until a proper, comprehensive assessment is prepared. In the latter case, the corn could continue to be grown under USDA regulatory oversight, as at present.

“The Bush Administration’s USDA rushed this GE corn to the brink of approval without giving any serious consideration to its potential impacts on human health, the environment, or the economy,” said Bill Freese, science policy analyst at the Center for Food Safety. “Syngenta’s biofuels corn will inevitably contaminate food-grade corn, and likely trigger substantial rejection in our corn export markets, hurting farmers. We urge the Obama Administration to give this first-ever GE industrial crop a careful and thorough assessment before making a final decision.”

“In addition to all the other problems with this biofuels corn, it is perverse to engineer a staple crop to feed automobiles rather than people in the midst of a food crisis,” added Freese.

Tell USDA to halt this approval until a full EIS has been completed that addresses the human health, environmental, and economic impacts this industrial corn presents. USDA is accepting public comments until January 20th--Send your comment today!


Green Bean said...

Yikes! That does not sound good. It is always something, isn't it? Off to leave my comment. Thanks for the alert.

Farmer's Daughter said...

Hmmm... We all know that corn is wind pollinated. How do they plan to prevent cross-pollination with food crops?

JessTrev said...

Thanks very much for the heads-up. I'll comment today.


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