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: www.thecampaign.org and Aventis press releases)

 

 

Return to Front Page

 

 

 

 

 

Resources:

SPECIAL ISSUE ON BT

Information Systems for Biotechnology/NBIAP News Report- December, 1995

 

Insect Control: Issues and Concerns

National Research Council / Plant Biotechnology Institute May 1997

Delaying Insect Adaptation Bruce E. Tabashnik

Insects have a remarkable capacity to adapt to chemicals that are used to control them. Insect pests have evolved resistance to all major categories of insecticides, including insecticidal crystal proteins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). Compared with conventional applications of most insecticides, delivery of insecticidal compounds via genetically engineered crops greatly increases the period during which insects are exposed. This promises to extend protection of the crops, but will also increase selection for insects resistant to the defensive chemicals expressed by transgenic plants.

Tools:

Educational Enhancements for the Biology Workbench