March 16, 2011

Podcast: Following protocol, APHIS fully deregulates corn amylase

In this podcast, Joel High, a farmer from Bertrand and member of the Nebraska Corn Growers Association, talks about the recent deregulation of corn amylase by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). This was the final step in the approval process – and the first ever corn processing output trait to go through our biotech regulatory system, which is significant.

APHIS noted it had not found a plant pest risk associated with the amylase trait and gave it a positive environmental assessment. The biotech corn has been through several federal approval processes since it was first submitted more than five years ago.

"Amylase corn is a biotech corn that produces a common enzyme called alpha amylase that breaks down starch into sugar," High explained. "This means the corn has a built-in enzyme that will make converting starch in the kernel into ethanol more efficient."

By facilitating this key step of the ethanol process, it can lower costs for ethanol producers and help them produce more gallons of ethanol. It can also lower energy and water consumption during ethanol production.

The corn variety is also approved for import in many places around the world, including Japan, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan, Russia and the Philippines. It’s also approved for growing in Canada. However, the aim with this corn is to keep it here for delivery to ethanol plants and only to ethanol plants as part of a contracted, closed-loop system.

Segregation via a closed-loop system is key because amylase corn is not beneficial in other corn milling and processing sectors, like for cereal and corn chips. It’s designed for ethanol production and that’s where it must go, High said.

The approval by APHIS is also significant because it is the first ever corn processing output trait to go through our biotech regulatory system.

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