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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today approved a biotech corn variety that was engineered solely for producing fuel ethanol. Companies that mill corn for breakfast cereals and other foods have been fighting the move for fear the grain will contaminate their supplies.
The corn, a product of Syngenta, contains an enzyme that reduces the cost of turning the grain into the biofuel. That same enzyme can make the corn unsuitable for some food products, including cereals and coatings on corn dogs, according to millers
Last month, Vilsack angered many in the organic industry by clearing a biotech variety of alfalfa produced by Monsanto. Growers of organic and other non-biotech varieties of alfalfa worry that the Monsanto version will contaminate seed supplies.
Last week, Vilsack approved limited plantings this year of biotech sugar beets pending completion of an environmental study.
“USDA has failed to provide the public with sufficient scientific data on the economic impacts of contamination on food production, or information on how USDA will ensure Syngenta’s compliance with a stewardship plan,” said the millers association’s president,