StarLink Drama Continues

June 26, 2001

2 Min Read
StarLink Drama Continues

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.--Aventis CropScience, ( of StarLink Corn, petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) toallow a tolerance level of up to 20 parts per billion (ppb) for StarLinkcontamination in corn. Testing for the StarLink corn has become sophisticatedenough that one kernel of the genetically modified grain can be detected among2,400 kernels (20 ppb). If a tolerance level is approved, officials hope it willease the burden on the corn distribution system. "Right now, if corn orcorn commingled with StarLink tests positive for Cry9C, [the StarLink protein]it must be channeled through approved uses due to the fact that there iscurrently a zero-tolerance regulation," said an Aventis CropSciencespokesperson. "What [a tolerance level] would do is ease up the corndistribution system."

The EPA is currently reviewing Aventis' request, but remains firm that"as things stand, StarLink corn is definitely not allowed in the human foodsupply," said David Deegan, an EPA spokesperson. Since Aventis hascancelled all registration on its StarLink corn, there will be no more plantingof the genetically engineered seed this year or in the future. Therefore, EPAhas had no need to set a deadline for determining whether to approve thetolerance level requested by Aventis. "Both the Food and DrugAdministration (FDA) and Centers sfor Disease Control (CDC) are doing anevaluation of individuals who believe they may have had an allergic reaction tothe corn," Deegan said. When results from the FDA and CDC studies areobtained, they will be integral in determining whether to approve the tolerancerequest. "The only way a tolerance will be established is if EPA determinesthat it would be safe to do so," Deegan said.

In related news, Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon filed suit againstAventis CropScience in early May for failing to alert the state's farmers to EPArestrictions placed on the use of the genetically engineered seed, which he saidresulted in financial loss. "If Aventis had given farmers the informationit was required to provide, it would have been much easier to keep StarLink fromgoing beyond its approved uses and entering the human food supply or reachingoverseas markets," Nixon said. More than 18,000 acres of StarLink seedswere planted in approximately 45 Missouri counties last year. Nixon's suitrequested that the St. Charles County Circuit Court grant preliminary andpermanent injunctions against Aventis to prohibit the company from makingmisrepresentations or withholding information about StarLink from growers,including the information about its restricted uses. Additionally, Nixonrequested that the court order Aventis to pay civil penalties to the state of upto $1,000 per violation, as well as to cover lost revenues and the costs ofinvestigation and prosecution.

Seventeen other farming states signed an agreement with Aventis CropSciencelast fall to receive a logistics service fee of up to $.25 per bushel, whichAventis CropScience is currently paying. Missouri was the only state to havefiled suit, which is a disappointment to Aventis CropScience. "We areextremely disappointed, but will continue to work with Missouri and other statesto resolve StarLink issues," an Aventis spokesperson said.

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