GE NEWS ARCHIVE
Mothers for Natural Law
Genetically Engineered Enzymes
Enzymes are naturally occurring proteins that speed up biochemical processes. They're used to produce everything from wine and cheese to corn syrup and baked goods. Enzymes allow the manufacturer to produce more of a particular product in a shorter amount of time, thus increasing profit.
Generally, the use of enzymes is beneficial. In some cases, they can replace harmful chemicals and reduce water and energy consumption in food production. However, enzymes produced by genetically engineered organisms are cause for concern. Not enough is known about the long-term effects of these enzymes on humans and the ecosystem for them to be used across the board.
FDA regulations on enzyme use is a gray area. Enzymes used in the processing of foods do not have to be listed on product labels because they are not considered foods. Also, when enzymes are genetically engineered, the manufacturer is not required to notify the FDA that the enzymes have been modified. The lists of GE enzymes known by the FDA is, by their own admission, "probably incomplete."
Worldwide, the enzyme market is a $1.3 billion industry. One of the largest enzyme manufacturers are Novo Nordisk, which manufactures GE and non-GE enzymes. You can contact Novo Nordisk (U.S.) at email@example.com and let them know your views on genetic engineering.
The FDA provided us with this partial list of genetically engineered enzymes:
If you want to absolutely avoid genetically engineered enzymes you will have two choices: avoid foods in the following categories, or call the food manufacturers directly and ask them if their enzymes are genetically engineered. They will probably have no idea. Ask them to check and call them back again. Let us know if you get written confirmation.
In many cases the enzymes named above are brand names. They may appear under other names as well. Enzymes are usually found in minuscule quantities in the final food product. The toxin found in genetically engineered tryptophan was less than 0.1 percent of the total weight of the product, yet it was enough to kill people. The use of enzymes is pervasive in the food industry. Nothing is known about the long-term effects of genetically engineered enzymes. We include this information so you can make an informed choice about whether you want to eat them or not.