This year, the dedicated efforts of agri-business, farmers, biotechnology advocates and others, including the National Corn Growers Association, are producing results as a new generation of corn technologies are set to enter the market. Now, farmers can look forward to specialty products intended for specific markets and corn capable of better coping with climate-based stressors.
“Fifteen years of biotechnology advocacy and support for science-based regulation created the conditions for approval of these exciting new products,” said NCGA Trade Policy and Biotechnology Action Team Chad Blindauer. “We applaud the release of products that provide growers with options that allow them to diversify or improve their operations. At the same time, this success renews our dedication to grower access to technology. I strongly urge farmers to consider the power that grassroots activism has as demonstrated by these events.”
Earlier this year, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service deregulated corn engineered to produce a common enzyme called alpha-amylase that breaks down starch into sugar, thereby facilitating a vital step in ethanol production. This represents a major change in the types of corn traits available to growers.
Until the deregulation of corn amylase, traited corn products protected yield and reduced stress from biotic factors such as insects or weeds. This reduced inputs needed to protect the crop and maintain yields. Corn amylase opens new options as the first output trait approved and commercialized.
Now, APHIS is in the final stages of consideration for deregulation of the first biotech corn variety that targets abiotic stress, drought. This will be the first variety available that reduces stress from a purely climatic factor. In the future, further abiotic traits better suiting corn for cooler weather and other climate-based stressors are expected.
“APHIS deregulation of corn amylase represented a major triumph for science-based regulations,” said Blindauer. “The introduction of additional options continue to allow growers to produce the corn needed for food, feed, fuel and fiber in a rapidly growing world.”