The Iowa Corn Promotion Board has reached a joint agreement for licensing four pending patents on a corn product which could make plastic safer. The board’s director of research and development, Rodney Williamson, says it’s called isosorbide.

Williamson says it’s a product derived from corn that would be an additive to plastics that would "add performance" to plastics. Williamson says the corn product could provide an alternative to additives in plastic used for baby bottles, infant toys and other products for children.

He says there are several plastic materials that are under scrutiny for their health effects and this material could replace them. The Iowa organization developed the product along with help from the U.S. Ag Department and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Williamson says they’ve funded the research at the University of New Jersey and the Iowa Corn Promotions Board has executed a license agreement to the technology and patents. He says they now need to find commercial partners who want to incorporate the product into their plastics. Williamson says it could take another five years before the product is available on the shelf.

Williamson says it depends on the product they’re working to develop, as there may be some additional testing needed. The company may also have to go out and test the product with customers. So, he says it could be a lengthy process, or it could be a quick process. It took one-and-a-half million dollars in research funding to bring the project to this point.