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FAR MORE GENETICALLY ENGINEERED UNAPPROVED CORN IN FOOD SUPPLY THAN ORIGINALLY SUSPECTED _____Special Report__________ By Marc KaufmanWashington Post Staff WriterThursday, October 19, 2000; Page A01 Millions of bushels of genetically engineered corn approved only for animal use have made their way into the human food supply chain, officials said yesterday, raising the possibility that the corn will be found in a wide array of foods. As a result, industry and federal officials are working to find the corn and buy it back before it's made into more taco shells and chips, corn flakes and other corn products."A lot has gone downstream," said John Wichtrich, vice president and general manager of Aventis FoodSciences of Research Triangle Park, N.C., the developer of the corn. "We're working with the grain elevators, the flour mills and processors to identify the commingled corn, and we're getting it out of the food chain."Although the corn was not approved for humans because of fears it might trigger allergic reactions, officials do not think its presence in food poses an imminent health risk. But the incident raises serious questions about whether genetically engineered products can be kept segregated from conventional ones in the nation's food system.Investigators thought the corn had made its way into a limited number of food products through a single Texas corn flour miller that had inadvertently used the corn from last year's crop to make taco shells. That prompted the recall of all taco shells made from that miller's flour, including Taco Bell grocery store and Safeway brand taco shells.Those recalls triggered a series of investigations by federal regulators and Aventis to determine how the corn had gotten to the Texas miller. While the federal investigations are continuing, Aventis now says the corn from this year's crop apparently was sold by farmers to dozens--and perhaps hundreds--of grain elevators across the country, which unknowingly distributed it to millers and processors for use in making food.About 260 grain elevators have received the corn this year, Aventis officials said yesterday. Based on completed surveys of 107 of those grain elevators, the company said that about half were forwarding the corn on for unapproved human uses.Wichtrich estimated that about 88 percent of the Aventis corn, called StarLink, was either being stored on farms or used for animal feed. But an additional 9 million bushels had already left farms this year, and that is the missing corn company officials are tracking down and buying back when they can.An official with the Department of Agriculture, which is monitoring the Aventis effort, said yesterday that there is "a plausibility" that some of this year's StarLink corn has made it into food products. But he also said that "there is an enormous effort underway to pull back as much of the corn as possible."The Food and Drug Administration is testing a variety of corn products for the presence of the unapproved corn.StarLink corn is the only genetically modified variety that was approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for animal use, but not for humans. Aventis officials now echo the opinion of others in the food and biotech industries that the decision to accept only the animal approval was a serious mistake.Aventis agreed to buy the entire crop at a 25-cent premium this month, and is selling much of it to feedlots and ethanol producers. The company is also paying to test commingled corn in many grain elevators, and will buy any corn in storage that has even a small amount of StarLink in it. Analysts estimate the cost will approach $100 million.Wichtrich said yesterday that in conversations with growers of StarLink corn, the company learned that some did not know that the corn was approved only for animal or industrial use, and that some knew the restrictions but forgot them."A lot of this corn was grown on a small section of larger farms, and sometimes farmers just harvested it all together," he said. "Sometimes they didn't advise the grain elevators of the restrictions, and sometimes they were too busy to remember. It just didn't work out."Wichtrich said that Aventis has identified about 352,000 acres planted with StarLink--a yellow corn mostly grown in the Midwest and upper Midwest--and an additional 168,000 acres of buffer crops planted to protect against pollen spread from the biotech corn. None of that corn was supposed to enter the human food supply. He also said some farmers did not know that StarLink had been planted near their crops, which were within the official buffer zones.___________________________NOTE:Late last year Archer-Midland-Daniels, the largest "buyer of corn for processing" frantically began asking farmers to seperate even the human-approved GM corn from the natural corn, citing health concerns, demonstrations and outright GM food riots (tearing up of GM crops and burning them) in the U.K. market. Fearing this would shoot the bottom out of the corn market, many have disregarded these admonitions, and not only did so-called "approved BtCorn" remain comingled, but "unapproved" Btcorn crops were comingled as well, apparently to get the most for the crops at hand should the bottom fall out of the GM corn export market. So it is being fed to us, largely in processed corn products and corn extract based products without our knowledge, along with other "Genetically modified organisms" without any labelling requirements whatsoever.Ohio District 10 Representative to the House Dennis Kucinich has sponsored legislation to correct these egregious problems pending development of realistic safety-testing measures for GMO.sLearn more at his website's page concerning this legislation, and more about the GMO health issuses and why they should be of particluar concern to victims of food intolerance such as IBS and IBD patients: http://www.house.gov/kucinich/action/gef.htm MNL_____________________ www.leapallergy.com [This message has been edited by Mike NoLomotil (edited 10-19-2000).]
 

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The amount of potentially allergenic STARLINK Corn which has disappeared into the food supply and/or possible export market has been fixed at 1,200,000 bushels.The Japanese have announced a demand for examination of or halting of all corn exports from the US into Japan pending proof the unapproved corn has not entered the export corn supply
 

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FEBRUARY 13, 18:06 EST Farmers Warned: Avoid Biotech Corn By PHILIP BRASHER AP Farm Writer WASHINGTON (AP) � The biotech corn that spawned nationwide recalls of taco shells still poses a problem for farmers this year, even though the seed is no longer for sale. The National Corn Growers Association warned its members Tuesday that stray kernels from last year's crop of StarLink corn could sprout in fields and cross-pollinate with other varieties of corn if farmers aren't careful. StarLink corn was never approved for human consumption because of unresolved questions about its potential for causing allergic reactions. Many farmers didn't know about the restriction, or else ignored it, and the biotech grain wound up contaminating at least 80 million bushels of last year's corn harvest. Kraft Foods was among several companies that recalled taco shells and other products after StarLink was detected in them. There is a danger that stray StarLink plants will contaminate corn fields this year, ``further compounding the problems of keeping StarLink out of the supply of U.S. corn,'' said Fred Yoder, chairman of the growers association's biotech working group. Farmers are advised to grow something other than corn, such as soybeans, on last year's StarLink acreage, or else plant herbicide-tolerant varieties of corn. Those varieties can be sprayed with a weedkiller that will kill the StarLink plants. But even that option has its own potential problem, because corn that's immune to the popular weedkiller, Roundup, isn't approved for sale in Europe. Farmers also are being warned not to plant any corn seed that hasn't been tested for the presence of StarLink. StarLink is one of several types of corn that have been genetically engineered to kill an insect pest, but it is the only one not allowed in food. The American Corn Growers Association, a smaller group that is critical of biotechnology, has said that farmers should be compensated by StarLink's maker, Aventis CropScience, for any contaminated crops grown this year. Meanwhile Tuesday, an anti-biotech group released a report prepared by the Food and Drug Administration on attitudes of consumers toward genetically engineered products. Virtually everyone questioned in a series of focus groups the agency sponsored last year believed that foods ought to be labeled if they contain any genetically engineered ingredients. ``Consumers want to have information on how their food is prepared for a variety of reasons,'' said Richard Caplan of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. FDA has refused to impose mandatory labeling on biotech foods. The agency says there is no justification for labeling food with biotech ingredients that are essentially the same as conventional ones. The food industry fears such labeling could unfairly stigmatize biotech products.
 
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