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USDA seeks comment on ethanol enzyme

The U. S. Agriculture Department has asked for public comment on a request by Syngenta Seeds Inc. seeking to deregulate a genetically engineered type of corn that helps in the production of ethanol.

The genetically engineered corn produces a microbial enzyme that facilitates ethanol production. Syngenta Seeds is part of Syngenta AG, the world’s largest agrochemicals company.

USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service said after the comment period has ended it would deregulate the genetically engineered crop if it determined the corn does not pose a risk to other plants in the environment.

If it is deregulated, the product could be transported and planted without the requirement of permits or other regulatory oversight by APHIS.

“The scientific evidence indicates that there are unlikely to be any environmental, human health or food safety concerns associated with the GE corn,” APHIS said in a statement. Comments must be submitted on or before Jan. 20, 2009.

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