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Agriculture Department approves GM corn for ethanol

Following decisions to permit planting of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa and sugar beets announced during the past two weeks, USDA has approved a new type of GM corn for commercial growing. According to an article in The New York Times, the corn, developed by Syngenta and called Enogen, "contains a microbial gene that causes it to produce an enzyme that breaks down corn starch into sugar," the initial step in ethanol production.

Syngenta claims that Enogen will increase output while making the production process more resource-efficient. Critics, who include not just environmental groups but also the North American Millers Association (NAMA), are concerned that the modified corn could cross-pollinate with corn grown for food and negatively affect its quality.

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