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what are the genes in genetically modified corn

Submitted by: Balch603


Expert response from Dirk Benson

Head of Seeds Product Selection and Development, Syngenta

Wednesday, 06/05/2015 13:44

GM corn traits are developed for a variety of reasons, but always to achieve a certain goal. For example, some GM corn traits may be for insect resistance for specific target pests, herbicide resistance for specific herbicides, or even characteristics for specific types of production, like ethanol. The Syngenta genes in GM corn are:


  •          Cry1Ab (Insect resistance - lepidopteran)/PAT (phosphinothricin-N-acetyltransferase) (herbicide tolerance - glufosinate)
  •          dmEPSPS (5-enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate (EPSP) synthase) (herbicide tolerance – glyphosate)
  •          Vip3A (Insect resistance – lepidopteran)
  •          mCry3A (Insect resistance – root worm)
  •          eCry3.1Ab (Insect resistance – root worm)
  •          alpha amylase (dry grind ethanol production)


For more information, please visit this website.


Expert response from Dr. Nicholas Storer

Global Leader for Scientific Affairs, Biotechnology Regulatory and Government Affairs Group, Dow AgroSciences

Friday, 27/03/2015 11:59

Corn contains about 50,000 genes, and through conventional breeding, corn breeders have created combinations of these genes to produce a crop that is highly useful within agricultural systems.  The tools of genetic engineering have enabled the addition of specific genes for new specific traits that cannot easily be developed through conventional breeding, such as season-long protection from feeding by insect pests and high levels of tolerance to specific herbicides.  For example, insecticidal proteins, such as Cry1F and Cry34/35Ab1, have been added using genes from the common soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis.  Genes from other bacteria provide tolerance to herbicides such as 2,4-D or glufosinate.  Through the addition of these genes, the high yield potential of corn can be protected.


While the most common genes inserted into GM crops confer herbicide tolerance of insect protection, various other agronomic traits and improvements have been made and are publically available for review here. An overall summary of the database can be found here


Expert response from Tom Eickoff, Ph.D.

Agronomic Systems Lead, Bayer Crop Science

Friday, 27/03/2015 11:53

This is a good question and first, I would like to state that not all of the corn seed developed by Monsanto contains an inserted gene as some farmers prefer to plant conventional corn hybrids, and we continue to develop those seeds and make them available.  The ability to add specific beneficial genes to corn has enabled the use of additional tools to protect yield.  The type of genes that are added to genetically modified corn generally fall under three categories: herbicide tolerance, insect protection and drought stress protection.   


Farmers have the choice to purchase corn seeds that contain various combinations of these genes depending upon their individual needs.  Choices range from the single gene product CP4 for glyphosate tolerance in Roundup Ready ® products to the  products with seven genes: two genes for herbicide tolerance (CP4 for glyphosate and PAT for glufosinate), and multiple insecticidal proteins (Cry1A, Cry2Ab, Cry1F, Cry3Bb1 and Cry34/35Ab1), developed from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, that provide season long control of corn rootworms and caterpillar pests like European corn borers, corn earworm, fall armyworms, as well as other key pests. 


Recently, we introduced a gene from another bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, to help the corn plant cells function more effectively when they are under stress enabling the plant to use water more efficiently during periods of drought stress.


A great resource for looking at all of the genes available in the various crops can be found at