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Daily News Archive
From January 30, 2001

Aventis Agrees to Pay Millions to Compensate Farmers and Grain Handlers Impacted by StarLink Corn Fiasco

The company, Aventis SA, that created the genetically modified organism (GMO) known as StarLink corn recently entered an agreement with the attorneys general of 17 states to pay farmers and corn handlers for the mess that Aventis created. According to the Washington Post (1/24/01, pg. E1), Aventis CropScience will pay farmers as much as 25¢ a bushel to help ensure that any remaining StarLink corn is used for approved uses such as animal feed, and not human consumption.

The story of StarLink broke after a coalition of environmental organizations, collectively called The Genetically Engineered Food Alert, conducted food tests that found the transgenic protein, Cry9C, in taco shells and other human food products (check out the 10/25/2000 press release at http://www.foe.org/act/westfampr.html). The gene that produces the protein Cry9C was acquired from a species of bacteria. The protein is toxic to insects. The Environmental Protection Agency had not approved this variety of transgenic corn because of a concern about allergic reactions to consumption of the protein.

The Aventis agreement includes claim procedures for farmers who planted StarLink and for farmers whose crops test positive for the StarLink protein even though they did not plant the engineered variety. The most frightening aspect of this fiasco is that many traditional corn crops were contaminated with StarLink proteins through pollen drift. Unlike a pesticide product that can be removed from market and will usually breakdown in the environment given enough time, genetic modifications spreading to non-transgenic plants thorough pollen drift are impossible to recall. For more information see our list of ten reasons to say NO to GMOs on Beyond Pesticides' website.