It's estimated that nearly 75 percent of processed food in the U.S. contains genetically modified ingredients (GMOs), usually derived from soy or corn. Most genetically modified crops (grown from seeds whose DNA has been spliced with other organisms) are created to withstand pests and industrial pesticides, or to be more attractive (larger, greener, redder, sweeter), or more resilient along the food production chain. According to an action alert put out today by the Cool Foods Campaign, a genetically modified corn crop designed for ethanol production is set to be deregulated without a proper EIS (environmental impact study). Considering how quickly other genetically modified corn crops have spread—often without intent—throughout the food supply, critics worry that deregulating this inedible, potentially health-harming corn could have hidden consequences. According to Cool Foods:
The 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 corn is genetically engineered to use corn solely for 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.
About Event 3272's particular health threats: 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).