Chinese develop new high phytase corn
Chinese scientists have developed a genetically
modified (GM) corn that could help improve the nutritional value of livestock
feed and reduce pollution.
The research is carried out by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences
(CAAS). The corn has now entered pre-production field trials.
The GM corn
produces seeds containing high levels of the phytase enzyme. The enzyme helps
livestock to digest phosphorus which is enclosed in the indigestible form of
Animals lack phytase in their system. As a result, farmers add
the enzyme to animal feed to help livestock digest phosphorus.
The CAAS scientists isolated the gene that produces phytase from a
species of the fungus Aspergillus, and inserted it into corn.
test have shown that compared to regular varieties, the rate of seed
germination, growth speed and yield of the GM corn were no different.
scientists said that, under current industry criteria for feed additives, adding
just a few grams of the GM corn seed per kilogram of animal feed would be enough
to satisfy livestock's nutritional demand for phosphorus.
If the technology is commercialised, Chinese farmers could save up
to $60 million per year in buying industrial phytase.
pollution caused by animal waste is a serious problem in China, resulting in
widespread algal blooms in the Chinese lakes. Better phosphorous digestibility
could add to improvement of the environment.
China has not yet approved
any GM corn for commercial sale.
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