GENETIC ENGINEERING OF ENZYMES USED IN FOOD PRODUCTION

Enzymes are proteins that occcur in nature and speed up biochemical processes that would otherwise take a long time. In the food industry enzymes are used to produce everything from wine and cheese to corn syrup and baked goods. The application in the industry is obvious. It allows the manufacturer to produce more of a particular product in a shorter amount of time thus increasing profit.

The use of non-genetically engineered enzymes is a major breakthrough for manufacturers. In many cases they allow manufacturers to stop using harmful chemicals in their processes. In some situations water and energy consumption can be reduced as well. So, in general the use of enzymes is beneficial.

However, when the enzyme is produced by an GE organism there is cause for concern. Not enough is known about the long term effects of these enzymes on humans and the ecosystem.

It is also a gray area with regard to federal regulation by the FDA:

When enzymes are used in the processing of foods they are not considered foods themselves. They are not required to be listed on the label of the end food product. Companies who produce GE versions of enzymes to be used during food manufacturing processes have no responsibility to notify the FDA. The lists of GE enzymes known by the FDA is, by their own admission, "probably incomplete".

So our research on GE enzymes took us from the FDA directly to the companies who manufacture the enzymes.

The world wide enzyme market is a $1.3 billion industry.

There are several companies in the U.S. that manufacture enzymes. Two of the more prominent are Novo Nordisk and Genencore. Novo Nordisk is the world's largest producer of enzymes and has just built a $120. manufacturing facility in North Carolina and is building a large plant in Tianjin, China.

Both of these companies were contacted by us repeatedly. They both refused to give out a list of which of their enzymes are genetically engineered.

Through the Freedom of Information act we have petitioned the FDA for a list of enzymes that they know to be genetically engineered. Through this list will not be complete we name for you here the enzymes which are known to be genetically engineered.

1) Chymosin - used in the production of cheese.

2) Novamyl (TM) used in baked goods to help preserve freshness.

3)Alphaamalase - used in the production of white sugar, maltodextrins and nutritive carbohyddrate sweeteners ( corn syrup)

4) Aspartic proteinase enzyme from R.Miehei - used in the production of cheese

5) Pullulanase enzyme - used in the production of high fructose corn syrup.

Because the companies who produce enzymes refused to disclose which enzymes are genetically engineered we have included below a list of all general catagories in which enzymes are used in the food industry. If you want to be absolutely certain you are avoiding all GE enzymes you would have to avoid processesd, manufactured foods in the following catefories: (Note: We do not know which, if any, of the following are genetically altered.)

Beers, wines, and fruit juices: Enzymes used (: Cereflo, Ceremix, Neutrase, Ultraflo, Termamyl, Fungamyl, AMG, Promozyme, Viscozyme, Finizym, Maturex, Pectinex, Pectinex Ultra SP-L, Pectinex BE-3L, Pectinex AR, Ultrazym, Vinozym, citrozym, Novoclairzym, Movoferm 12, Glucanex, Bio-Cip Membrane, peelzym, Olivex/Zietex

Sugar - Enzymes used: Termamyl, Dextranase, Invertase

Oils - Enzymes used Lipozyme IM, Novozym 435, Lecitase, Lipozyme, Novozym 398, Olivex, Seitex

Baked Goods - Enzymes used: Fungamyl, AMG, Pentopan, Novomyl, Glutenase, gluzyme

In many cases the enzyme names above are brand names. They may apear under other names as well

A final word on enzymes in the food industry: Because enzymes are generally used as a catalyst they are pretty much used up in the chemical reaction. They are usually found in minuscule quantities by the time the final food product goes to market. But because the use of enzymes is so pervasive in the food industry and because nothing is known of the long term effects of GE enzymes we are including this information so you can make your own determinations.


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Ronnie Cummins E-mail: alliance@mr.net    http://www.purefood.org

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