Daily News Archive
From August 1, 2001

EPA Denies Request to Allow GE Corn in Human Food

The Environmental Protection Agency has made a decision to prohibit any amount of the genetically modified StarLink corn into human food supplies, according to the New York Times. This genetically engineered corn, meant for animal feed, was found in taco shells and other foods last year, causing a recall of these products. Aventis CropScience, the producer of StarLink, asked the EPA to allow trace amounts of the corn into the human food supply, so as not to cause more recalls. However the EPA has rejected this request, saying "there was not enough evidence to rule out possible allergic reactions, even from small amounts." (NY Times, 7/28/01).

Starlink corn is genetically engineered to kill pests. It contains a bacterial gene that produces a protein called Cry9C. The chemical makeup of Cry9C has similarities to known food allergens. There is no proof that Cry9C is actually an allergen, however an EPA advisory panel concluded that government testing on it has been inadequate. Studies neglected to test infants and children with multiple food allergies, who would be most susceptible.

Stephen L. Johnson of the EPA believes it may take years to determine the threats of Cry9C. Since StarLink containment efforts are continuing, and it is no longer being grown, Mr. Johnson proposed that it would not make sense for Aventis to press its request to allow trace amounts of StarLink in human food.