Friday, 29 May, 2020

Contaminated corns from Brazil are to be turned into ethanol: Iran

Iranian authorities say a large Brazilian cargo of corn stuck for nearly a year in a port south of the country because of contamination will be turned into simple alcohol to help a national fight against the new coronavirus pandemic.

Head of Iran’s standardization office (ISIRI) said on Tuesday that a bulk of more than 120,000 corn shipments that had been planned to be annihilated because of contamination will be processed to make ethanol.

Nayerreh Pirouzbakht said that a part of the consignments had been sent to other countries where they have less strict standards on using corns either as animal feed or in other industries.

Pirouzbakht did not elaborate on the name of the countries but said that none of them were Iran’s neighbors.

The dossier for contaminated corns has been under the spotlight in Iran since the summer of last year when reports suggested that the large cargo that had arrived from Brazil was contaminated with aflatoxin, a highly dangerous poison produced by certain molds which can cause cancer.

The ISIRI said at the time that the corns would not be allowed to enter the country from customs offices in Imam Khomeini Port, where they had been unloaded.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also weighed in, saying the corns should be annihilated if they cannot be returned to Brazil because of contract issues and other problems.

The government has rejected repeated petitions by the 17 companies owning the cargoes that the level of contamination is acceptable, saying they cannot be released.

However, Pirouzbakht’s Tuesday announcement showed that the ISIRI had lowered its standards on making ethanol from corns amid surging demand for alcohol products in Iran as a result of the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

Pirouzbakht said Iran’s ministry of health would supervise the process for production of ethanol from the corns so that they could match standards on using ethanol in products such as hand sanitizers.

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