GMO COMPASS - Information on genetically modified organisms
  Aug 20, 2014 | 10:24 pm
Site Search
Searches all of GMO-Compass in an instant
The setting-up of this website was financially supported by the European Union within the European Commissionís Sixth Framework Programme from 1 January 2005 until 28 February 2007.

The European Commission and other EU agencies are not responsible for the content.
See whatís what.
The GMO Food Database
The GMO Food Database.
You want to know for which food products or plants gene technology plays a role?

Then enter here the name of a plant, foodstuff, ingredient or additive:

Database search
All database entries in overview:
Plants
Foodstuffs
Ingredients and additives
Additives according to E numbers
Enzymes


Please note that the GMO Compass Database currently is being expanded and updated. Please check back for new entries.

Newsletter
Sign up to receive regular updates on GM food quality and safety.
To change or cancel your subscription, please enter your email above.
Contact
Comments, suggestions or questions?
Please contact us at info@gmo-compass.org
Change font size
1 2 3

Ingredients and Additives

Corn Syrup, Fructose, and Glucose - All Are Products of Starch


The transformation of starch into sugar is an important branch of the starch industry and is one of the most important applications of biotechnology. Countless foods contain ingredients produced by the breakdown of starch. Enzymes are the key to these chemical reactions - enzymes that are predominantly produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

Starches are chemically bound clusters of sugar molecules found in plants. Under the right conditions, starch molecules can be broken down into sugar. This process makes it possible to obtain sugar from the starch of many different plants, rather than just sugar beets or sugar cane. This is now being done by industrial-scale starch saccharification. The most important sources of starch are maize, potatoes, and wheat.

Examples of food ingredients and additives produced by the saccharification of starch:

  • Gucose syrup: Used in sweets, baked goods, and soft drinks

  • Dextrose (glucose): Sold pure or used in sweets and energy foods

  • Fructose: Sweetener for diabetics

  • Dextrin: Filler and thickener in sweets, convenience products; carrier substance for flavours and vitamins

  • Maltose (maltitol): Sweetener in sugar-free or low-sugar products

Strong acids were once used to break apart starch molecules and release sugar. Now, enzymes do the job offering many advantages: With enzymes, the process targets the proper chemical bonds much more precisely. Different enzymes can be used to produce syrups with different levels of sweetness and different technical characteristics. The end products are not only used as custom tailored ingredients in countless foods and drinks, they can also be further processed into glucose, artificial sweeteners, or fat substitutes.

For a long time, breaking down starch (saccharification) didn't make economic sense. Things changed, however, as soon as the enzymes responsible for this process became available at low cost, high quality, and at unlimited quantities. Now, almost all of the enzymes used to break down starch are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms.

Genetic engineering: Starch and enzymes

Genetic engineering can be associated with starch derived sugars that are used in foods and beverages in two ways: The plant starch source can be genetically modified, and the enzymatic "tools" used for breaking down the starch can be made by genetically modified microorganisms.

  • Plant used as a starch source: When maize is used as a source of starch, a certain portion of the raw material may be genetically modified, as GM maize is common in the US and in other countries. When GM maize in Europe becomes more widespread, so will the proportion of GM content in starch processing. For potatoes, the second most important source of starch, GM cultivars with optimised starch content are getting closer to commercial cultivation.
  • Enzymes:  Most of the enyzmes used in starch saccharification are produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms. Some of these enzymes are economically impossible to produce without biotechnological methods. Certain procedures use "immobilised" enzymes, which are bound to a reaction surface. Rather than mixing freely, they remain fixed to a surface and are not present in the final product.

Labelling: It is impossible to tell by examining starch derived sugar products if the source material was genetically modified or if the enzymes used were produced with the help of genetically modified microorganisms. Nonetheless, such products require labelling if they contain sugar products derived from the starch of genetically modified plants.

Enzymes do not need to be declared or listed, regardless of the way they were produced. 

 


An EU Research Project

What are the risks of growing GM crops?

What are the benefits?

Numerous studies have addressed the potential impacts of genetically modified (GM) plants. Yet the existing evidence on the effects of GM plants is often contradictory and the quality of scientific research varies widely.

Therefore, the GRACE project will establish new tools for assessing the quality of existing studies and will conduct comprehensive reviews to identify health, environmental and socio-economic impacts of GM plants.

More information

January 26, 2006 [nach oben springen]

© 2014 by GMO Compass. All rights reserved. | Imprint | website created by webmotive