The EFSA GMO Panel assessed maize 3272, which produces an artificial enzyme belonging the group of alpha-amylase. This enzyme (thermos-tolerant alpha-amylase AMY797E) is supposed to have a positive effect on the processing of the maize kernels at high temperatures, especially when intended for use in producing agro-fuels. Maize 3272 was developed for use in the dry-grind fuel ethanol process whereby the starch contained in cereal grains is hydrolysed into glucose, which is subsequently converted to ethanol by fermentation. The final product is used as the substrate for yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) fermentation to produce ethanol. The AMY797E protein is chimeric encoded by gene segments derived from three parental alpha-amylase genes originating from strains of the archeal order Thermococcales, including marine organisms of unclear taxonomy.
Further, the maize produces the protein PMI protein (phosphomannose isomerase) derived from Escherichia coli. Expression of PMI enables transformed maize cells to utilise mannose and therefore to survive on specific media used for selecting the maize plants after the process of genetic engineering (so-called marker gene).
The integration of the additional DNA was performed by using Agrobacterium tumefaciens.
According to EFSA (2013a), the 3272 maize event is intended for cultivation and use in the dry-grind fuel ethanol process outside the EU. However, it cannot be excluded that the crop originally intended for industrial use could inadvertently enter the food and feed chain. In addition, by-products of the dry-grind ethanol process produced from maize and other cereal are widely used as feed (e.g. distillers’ dried grains with solubles).
The scope of the application is for food and feed uses, import and processing of maize 3272 and all derived products.
The EFSA opinion was published in 2013. However, it was found to be non-conclusive due to missing data. In 2017, the EU Commission asked EFSA to finalise the risk assessment, and the statement complementing the opinion was published in 2019 (EFSA, 2019).