U.S. Corn Genetically Engineered to Contain More Protein

Corn kernels in a bowl

Corn accounts for over 95 percent of grain production in the United States having various uses that include sweeteners, cereal, and alcohol. A group of scientists say they can tweak the plant’s genome to boost the production of an amino acid that is commonly found in meat.

A research paper detailing the findings was published in the U.S. journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Researchers explained that amino acids in corns are tied to one another via a peptide bond, which on a microscopic level looks like a long chain. The latest discovery could help millions of people in the developing world get more nutritious food, as corn is a staple food not only in the U.S.

During the research, study authors injected a bacterial gene into the plant to spur the production of methionine, an essential amino acid for nail, skin and health. Researchers claim that the sulfur released by the amino acid slow down aging processes, protect the body from pollutants, and boost the selenium and zinc absorption within the body.

Corn May Be Unsafe for Human Consumption

Researchers explained that they have inserted the E. coli bacterial gene into the U.S. corn’s genome to boost nutritional value. Laboratory tests showed that the gene spurred the methionine output in the plant’s leaves. Methionine levels in corn kernels jumped 57% in the wake of the laboratory experiment.

One other piece of good news is that the added gene did not affect the plant’s development. However, it is still unclear if the genetically engineered crops are safe to eat by humans or not.

Prof. Thomas Leustek of the Rutgers University’s Department of Plant Biology explained that corn can be enriched with methionine without the need for genetic engineering. He acknowledged that more research needs to be done on the issue.

Image Source: Pixnio

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