Monsanto has started a multi-million-dollar research and breeding program to create a strain of corn that resists moisture. These can then be made into cornflakes that won?t get soggy when you pour milk in the bowl.They want to discover plant genes that produce high levels of wax, then transfer that quality into corn grown for breakfast cereals.

?The idea of breakfast cereals which have a high wax content is not new,? says Colin Merritt, a biotechnology development manager for Monsanto. ?Manufacturers add plant waxes to try to stop the cereal soaking up milk and going soggy. But they are not terribly effective. Our idea is to set up a breeding program to produce a more waxy corn in the first place.?

Monsanto hopes that non-soggy cornflakes might help change public opinion about genetically modified food. Merritt says, ?We would hope to show that GM technology could produce an obvious direct consumer benefit. But we are still at the very early stages of what is a very big research program. Non-soggy cereals are not about to reach the shelves just yet.?

Scientists have been struggling with the problem of soggy cereal for years. In 1995 the Institute of Food Research in the U.K. spent almost $300,000 studying why cornflakes and other cereals become soggy in milk. They were even awarded the IgNobel physics prize for research which ?cannot or should not be reproduced.? Friends of the Earth, which has campaigned against genetically modified foods, says, ?This has a fair claim to be the most pointless GM product yet.?

For more information, read ?Genetically Modified Food? by Ronnie Cummins and Ben Lilliston,click here.

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