Cry9C Protein Found in Non-StarLink Corn

Aventis announced on Nov. 21 that tests confirmed the presence of Cry9C protein, the allergen specific to StarLink corn, in a variety of corn other than StarLink. The company began its own testing after several farmers stated that a variety of corn not sold under the StarLink trademark had tested positive for the protein. The seed was produced by Slater, Iowa-based Garst Seed Co. in 1998, the same year in which StarLink went on the market as livestock feed. According to media outlet Reuters, Garst Seed said in a statement that the protein was found only in limited quantities of a single corn hybrid. Aventis said it did not know how the contamination occurred two years ago.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would meet on Monday, Nov. 27, with department scientists, economists, policymakers and representatives of U.S. food and grain industries to analyze the situation. "At this point, we don't yet know exactly what happened and how," said Andy Solomon, USDA spokesman. "We are working with the companies involved and others in the industry to learn more about the nature and extent of the situation."

Thus far, USDA and experts in the industry have two theories on how contamination occurred. One theory suggested that contamination was a result of mishandling during production and distribution; the other is the long-feared inevitability of cross-pollination. As of now, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required a 600-foot buffer zone around fields of StarLink corn. "It has been well established that corn pollen can drift for miles," said Craig Winters, executive director of The Campaign to Label Genetically Engineered Foods. "It should not be a surprise that other forms of corn may have been contaminated by the pollen from StarLink corn."


(Sources: and Aventis press releases)



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