Can tires really be made of corn?

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    The typical tire is made of oil. Seven gallons of oil is used to make one tire. In order to make tires the oil is turned into isoprene and about one billion tires are made each year. Tires are an environmental headache. After tires live out their usafulness they are dumped in piles and lit on fire. The fumes from the burnt tires pollute our air and the melted residue runoff pollutes our waters.

    Thanks to research done by Goodyear Tire, Rubber Co. and Genencor, a biotechnology company, future tires may be less harmful to the environment. Within five years, tires could be made from sugar cane, corn, or switchgrass.These companies are working on ways to bio-isoprene by using these plants. This would reduce the tires negative environmental impact.

    To make rubber from plants, the idea is to use genetically modified bacteria that eats the sugar from the plants and converts it into bio-isoprene. The tires made of plants are expected to perform just as well and last just as long. In addition, according to Genecor’s senior director, Mr. Richard J. LaDuca’s expectations of the tires are that they will eventually be even better than the tires made from oil.

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