Titel:StarLink found in more foods
Bron: United Press International (link)
Datum: 25 april 2001

StarLink found in more foods

Wednesday, April 25, 2001
By United Press International

A genetically engineered corn approved only for animal and industrial uses has been detected in a wider variety of human foods than initially reported, documents filed with the federal government showed Tuesday.
But, the company that produced the corn variety said, the amount of the genetically modified material is miniscule and not a threat to human health.

In documents filed with the Environmental Protection Agency, Aventis CropScience of Research Triangle Park, N.C., the makers of StarLink corn, asked the federal government to establish a level of 20 parts per billion of the modified corn as safe for human consumption based on new tests conducted by the company.

At issue is the protein Cry9C, which produces a toxin that discourages pests and is a suspected human allergen. The protein is destroyed during the wet-milling process but survives dry milling.

A spokesman for Friends of the Earth, the group that first revealed the StarLink contamination problem, said as long as no one knows for sure whether Cry9C can cause allergic reactions, "contaminated products should be recalled from supermarket shelves."

"There's still not adequate scientific information about whether StarLink is an allergen to set any tolerance level," FOE spokesman Larry Bohlen told UPI. "It's not like arsenic where there's 40 years of research."

The EPA issued a statement saying it would consider Aventis' new data in conjunction with data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before making any decision.

"The federal government is committed to ensuring that the U.S. food supply is safe for all citizens," the EPA said.

Aventis was supposed to keep track of the entire crop of StarLink, the only biotech crop that was not approved for both human and animal consumption at the same time, but the company lost track and a number of farmers and grain elevator operators said they never were told to keep it separated from other crops.

The StarLink contamination problem has cut into U.S. corn sales overseas with countries like Japan and Korea declining shipments. The European Union has said if any StarLink is detected in shipments there, the corn will be returned to the United States.

StarLink was first detected in taco shells but Aventis now says it also has been found in corn bread, polenta and hush puppies tested by the company.

StarLink was first approved for planting in 1998 and crops were grown in 1999 and 2000 — mostly in Iowa. Since the contamination was first revealed in September, Aventis has been buying up remaining stocks. Aventis said virtually all of the 2000 crop was secured, as well as most of the remaining stocks of the 1999 crop.

"It is now clear (the) assumption (StarLink could be completely segregated from other corn) was incorrect, as EPA recently acknowledged by announcing it will no longer grant split registrations for products of biotechnology," Aventis said in its filing. "The grain handlers, food industry and Aventis have undertaken extraordinary measures to prevent corn containing Cry9C protein from entering the food supply. In spite of these efforts, trace levels of Cry9C will continue to be unavoidably present in grain.

"Moreover, it is now understood that it was inevitable that the commercial introduction of StarLink corn for feed use would cause the introduction of Cry9C protein into the general grain supply because of the biology of corn, gene flow and the processes used in handling grain. It is therefore necessary to establish a tolerance to provide a clear and protective legal standard for unforseen and unavoidable levels of Cry9C protein found in the human food supply."

Aventis said trace levels of the protein pose no threat to human health.

Aventis said it is now impossible to get Cry9C out of the food chain because it already is "present in grain handling channels, the existence of other varieties of corn that contain some level of Cry9C protein, volunteer corn and corn residues in grain handling, transportation and storage equipment."

Aventis estimates 30,000 bushels of the 49.1 million bushels of StarLink grown last summer are unaccounted for and 50 million bushels of non-StarLink corn has been contaminated.

Aventis said it is unsure how much of the 37.5 million bushels of the 1999 crop made it into the human food chain but maintains most was kept out of the food supply. The company estimates 437 million bushels of corn were contaminated by the 1999 crop and 94 million bushels of that total have been diverted to animal feed and industrial uses so far.

Copyright 2001, United Press International
All Rights Reserved