Daily News Archive

GE Corn Contaminates Soybean Crop
(from November 15, 2002)

USDA inspectors found a harvest of soybeans in Nebraska contaminated with genetically engineered corn not approved for human consumption, according to the Washington Post. The inspectors found the contamination with enough time to stop the harvest from going into the food supply.

The contaminated crop of soybeans was mixed with soybean crops from other local farms at a commercial grain elevator, resulting in the entire harvest, hundreds of thousands of bushels, deemed unsuitable human consumption. The corn that was mixed with the soybeans was genetically engineered to contain a pharmaceutical or industrial protein that has not been proven safe for humans to consume. Government administrators addressing the problem did not specify the exact protein. They did say they are holding an investigation and may pursue civil or criminal penalties.

The source of the soybeans' contamination begins a year before they were even planted. On the same field on which they were grown, a biotechnology company called ProdiGene grew the GE corn the previous year, 2001. Even though this corn crop was unapproved, ProdiGene did not check to make sure the plants were removed before setting seed this year. As a result, some of this GE corn sprouted up along with the soybeans.

Instances such as this and 2000's Starlink contamination show the regulatory problems with genetically engineered crops. Jane Rissler, deputy director of food and environment programs at the Union of Concerned Scientists commented, "This technology is moving so much faster than the government is. So much of this regulatory scheme depends on the industry's actions, and we cannot trust them."