Starlink™ Corn is "a variety of yellow corn genetically engineered to express the protein Cry9C, which is toxic to various insect pests of corn and acts as a pesticide (a plant-incorporated protectant)," according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The genetically modified varietal was submitted for registration by Aventis Agroscience, Inc. in the mid-1990s. The EPA registered it for commercial use for livestock feed and industrial use only in 1998 because Cry9C was judged to be "potentially allergenic . . . in human food." Subsequently, StarLink™ corn was planted in small quantities: "9,018 acres in 1998; 247,694 acres in 1999; and 350,000 acres in 2000, with the largest planting representing less than half a percent of the total acreage planted to corn in the United States. (Approximately 70 to 80 million acres of corn were planted in the U.S. in 1998 through 2000.)" However, "[i]n September 2000, residues from StarLink™ were detected in taco shells, indicating that it had entered the human food supply. In response to these detections, Aventis requested cancellation of the StarLink™ registration, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that dry grain mills processing yellow corn test for the presence of Cry9C."
Contamination Results in Many Farmers' Corn Being Turned Away
FDA tests of "No. 2 yellow corn" resulted in "[s]cores of trucks, rail cars and river barges . . . being turned away daily by inspectors who say that a splotch of red dye has turned up on what looks like a home pregnancy test, meaning their corn is not fit for food," according to 2000 New York Times article. "StarLink has definitely set back the biotech industry, maybe five years," said Lewis W. Batchelder, a senior vice president at Archer Daniels Midland.
According to CBS, "the National Corn Growers Association . . . warned farmers against buying seed not certified as StarLink-free and . . . asked the Agriculture Department for helping in getting that message to growers through its network of field agents."
StarLink Corn Settlements
In 2004, the Associated Press reported that farmers nationwide would be "paid interest on the $110 million settlement with makers and distributors of genetically altered corn that was mistakenly introduced into the food supply," including four percent interest accrued since 2002 and "up to $2 per acre for farmers who did not grow StarLink corn but suffered from a consumer backlash when it was revealed that it had gotten into the food supply." This was the result of a class-action lawsuit against "StarLink creator Aventis, Starlink maker StarLink Logistics and Avanta USA, which owns StarLink distributor Garst Seed." The class consisted of "every farmer who did not grow StarLink." Aventis agreed in 2001 to compensate farmers and grain elevators "up to 25 cents per bushel for tainted corn and . . . other losses." About $130 million had been paid by 2004.
"A third settlement called for $9 million to be paid to consumers who said they suffered allergic reactions from eating food products that contained the genetically modified corn."
Articles & Resources
Other SourceWatch Articles
- Rebekah Wilce, Genetic Modification with that Taco? GMO Contamination Rampant, PRWatch.org, March 2, 2012
- Organic Consumers Association, Genetically Engineered Food: StarLink Corn
- Starlink™ Corn Regulatory Information. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (April 2008). Retrieved on February 29, 2012.
- David Barboza (December 11, 2000). "Gene-Altered Corn Changes Dynamics Of Grain Industry", New York Times.
- "StarLink Spied In Seeds", CBS (September 18, 2000).
- Kevin O'Hanlon (August 23, 2004). "StarLink corn settlement also to include interest", Associated Press.
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