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Diversa Announces GRAS Approval of Purifine Enzyme; Increased Oilseed Yield for Biodiesel and Edible Oil Production

Diversa Corporation, a developer of high-performance specialty enzymes, announced that its Purifine enzyme has obtained GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for edible oil applications.

This food-application approval follows the September 28th approval by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for non-food applications, including the use of Purifine enzyme for increasing the efficiency of oilseed processing for the production of biodiesel fuel. (Earlier post.)

Purifine enzyme facilitates a novel degumming process designed to increase the oil yield and reduce low-value byproducts by removing oil phospholipids in the oil refining process. The total yield increase is expected to vary between 1-2%, depending on the phospholipid content of the crude vegetable oil.

The enzyme has been developed to be compatible with current processing technologies.

The FDA GRAS approval has come earlier than anticipated and will allow us to accelerate the full commercial launch of Purifine enzyme. We now have the flexibility to initiate full-scale trials in oilseed plants in the US that refine vegetable oil for either food or biofuel applications, or both, greatly increasing the number of plants that can potentially adopt our improved enzymatic degumming process.

—Edward Shonsey, Diversa’s Chief Executive Officer

The oilseed processing market is highly concentrated and dominated by three major players. Diversa intends to market Purifine enzyme directly to these leading oilseed processors. Diversa will manufacture Purifine enzyme under its agreement with Fermic S.A. de C.V.

According to the 2006 Soya and Oilseed Bluebook, the estimated worldwide production of high phosphorus oils (soybean, canola, sunflower) will be more than 58 million metric tons in 2006. Diversa estimates the addressable market for Purifine enzyme within the global oilseed processing market to be approximately $200 million annually.



Is this a transgenic product or was this enzyme developed using traditional means?


Enzymes are not organisms. Although, if developed with trans-genic organisms, care should be taked to remove those organisms before the enzyme is used in production.

An Enzyme is a extremely complex molecule that acts catalytically to modify other molecules. One might liken an enzyme to a nano-machine that builds other chemicals from feedstock chemicals. Enzymes cannot reproduce. They are not alive.

As enzymes are such complicated molecules they are easily damaged and are thus very bio-degradable. Overcooking food typically destroys the naturally occuring enzymes in the food, and may cause the food to become hard to digest as a consequence.

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