Aventis Cancels License to Sell StarLink

October 13, 2000

3 Min Read
Aventis Cancels License to Sell StarLink

WASHINGTON--On Oct. 12, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Aventis CropScience agreed to cancel its license to sell its genetically modified (GM) corn, StarLink; according to the agency, this controversial corn will no longer be planted for agricultural purposes.

This voluntary agreement is "the fastest tool available to EPA for quickly removing StarLink corn" for public health reasons, according to a statement by Stephen Johnson, the agency's deputy assistant administrator for pesticides. EPA felt it was necessary to remove the corn from any possibility of re-entering the human food supply, not because of possible allergens this corn may possess, but because Aventis had not met its assurance that it would only be used in animal feed. The remaining crop from 2000 will be sold as animal feed, under the USDA's guidance. For more information on that story, visit www.naturalproductsinsider.com/hotnews/0ah215914.html. For a copy of EPA's statement, visit www.epa.gov and click on "EPA Headquarters Press Releases."

This latest development comes after a newsworthy two weeks. First, on Sept. 29, Aventis and the federal government announced they would strictly monitor the sale of the not-for-human-consumption corn that inadvertently made its way into Kraft's Taco Bell-brand shells and the news. Then, on Oct. 11, supermarket giant Safeway Inc. announced StarLink corn was found it its store-brand taco shells, made by the Irving, Texas-based Mission Foods Corp. Subsequently, Mission Foods is now testing their own brand of shells for the rogue corn.

In the never-ending saga of recalled taco shells, supermarket giant Safeway recalled its store-brand shells after StarLink was found in one of the 14 shells tested by Fairfield, Iowa-based Genetic ID. The shells had been sent for testing by the anti-biotech Genetically Engineered Food Alert coalition.

As a result, Safeway issued a recall on their store-brand shells and will also remove packages of Mission-brand tacos (which have not been found to have the unapproved corn) from its 1,680 stores in both the United States and Canada. Safeway is also offering refunds to customers who bought either brand of taco shells.

According to Mission Foods, it has begun to test its shells for the StarLink corn, but results so far have been inconclusive. The company also stated that it has begun to buy corn flour outside the Texas area in an effort to not inadvertently use the unsuitable corn. Additionally, the company implemented a new test to screen for StarLink in all corn shipments prior to storing and milling. In a statement released on the company's Web site, Mission Foods said, "The safety of our customers and consumers is the top priority for Mission Foods. Our products are manufactured to meet all of the standards of food safety defined by the federal government and its regulatory agencies."

The corn flour used in both the Taco Bell, Safeway and Mission Food taco shells came from the same company, Azteca Milling of Irving, Texas, which is a joint partnership between Decatur, Ill.-based Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Monterrey, Mexico-based Gruma S.A, of which Mission Foods is a subsidiary.

"[StarLink corn in the food supply] is a classic example as to how the FDA is falling down on the job for this whole issue of genetically engineered foods," said Craig Winters, executive director of The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods. "There are probably still even more instances of this corn out in production somewhere."

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