I just finished up a day at Syngenta Biotechnology, Inc. in Raleigh, NC. Although I blogged the event on AgWired I did run into an interesting story about ethanol. Syngenta is developing an amylase enzyme trait into corn which they hope to have on the market by 2008. In this picture a Syngenta scientist is conducting a simple iodine test for starch. That’s because the amylase enzyme speeds up starch conversion to sugar.
Currently ethanol plants have to add the enzyme to the mix during processing of corn into ethanol. By creating a corn plant with the amylase already in it they can shorten the process and eliminate a whole step. They also hope it will bring a premium for corn growers.
The head of marketing for Syngenta Seed is Bruce Howison. I interviewed him this afternoon. He talks about the process and what this new enzyme trait will mean to ethanol plants and growers. I also asked him about the concerns some people have over the whole food vs. fuel issue. He says Syngenta is committed to making crop acreage more productive to feed the world but believes there’s room for a fuel business too.
Here’s an excerpt from my interview with Bruce: Bruce Howison Interview (4 min MP3)