Bioengineering Healthier Corn

The Durk Pearson & Sandy Shaw®
Life Extension NewsTM
Volume 6 No. 4 • September 2003


Bioengineering Healthier Corn

The September 2003 issue of Nature Biotechnology reports1 a scientific group that has determined the sequence of an enzyme specific for tocotrienol synthesis. Expression of the cDNAs for HGGT (homogentisic acid geranylgeranyl transferase), the enzyme unique to the tocotrienol biosynthetic pathway in plants, results in transgenic plants that generate large increases in the amounts of vitamin E and tocotrienols in their leaves and seeds. The researchers found a 10-to-15-fold increase in the tocotrienol and tocopherol content of Arabidopsis thaliana leaves in response to overexpression of the barley HGGT. Overexpression of the same cDNA resulted in up to a six-fold increase in tocotrienol and tocopherol content in corn seeds.

Currently tocotrienols are nutraceuticals extracted from rice and palm oils. Using genetic engineering, tocotrienols will become dirt cheap and readily available in the everyday vegetables you eat. It is one thing for those who are anti-GMO foods to reject foods that were crops engineered to be resistant to herbicides, but another entirely to reject healthier GMO versions of regular food. Hey, they can call high-tocotrienol and -tocopherol versions of corn Frankenfoods if they like, but they’ll just look like Frankenfools . . . .

  1. Cahoon et al. Metabolic redesign of vitamin E biosynthesis in plants for tocotrienol production and increased antioxidant content. Nature Biotech 21(9):1082-7 (2003). Dormann. Corn with enhanced antioxidant potential. Nature Biotech 21(9):1015-6 (2003).

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