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Experiment station researcher looking for missing links in corn

COLLEGE STATION A scientist with the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station said the development of corn with improved protein quality would reduce the need for soybean additives when feeding corn to swine and poultry.

Corn is deficient in two essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan. Increasing the relative content of these two amino acids is the project of corn researcher Dr. Javier Betran.

The resulting nutritionally-improved corn, known as Quality Protein Maize, could have positive implications not only for livestock feeding, but also for human consumption particularly in developing countries in Latin America, Africa and Asia. There, corn is the main food staple.

Nobel laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, a distinguished professor of international agriculture at Texas A&M University, has said new technological advances are key to helping developing countries meet future food supply demands.

He has said his greatest worry is Africa, because of its high rates of population, little application of improved technology and escalating food deficits. Borlaug and the International Center for Wheat and Maize Improvement are promoting the development and adoption of Quality Protein Maize in developing countries around the world.

While better protein corn would help human nutrition, it would vastly improve feeding costs in segments of animal agriculture by reducing the need of better protein supplements, Betran said.

"Corn is mainly used for animal feeding in the United States," Betran said. "About 65 percent goes into animal feed. If you feed poultry the same corn, you need to supplement it with another product. Soybeans or synthetic lysine are commonly used to provide the protein quality that the corn doesn't have. Our approach is to improve corn to enhance the content for these two essential amino acids."

In the early 1960s, scientists discovered a "mutant" maize that contained protein with nearly twice as much
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Contact: Blair Fannin
b-fannin@tamu.edu
979-845-2259
Texas A&M University - Agricultural Communications
7-Jul-2004


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