Environmental Defense Calls Study of Starlink Corn Unscientific

CDC/FDA Study Relies On Small Number Of Self-Reported Reactions Following Consumption Of Corn

June 13, 2001
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 The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released late this afternoon the results of an investigation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of about 20 consumer reports of allergic reactions following consumption of foods containing corn. The investigation did not find that any of the reactions are attributable to StarLink? corn, which is genetically engineered to produce an insecticidal toxin. Sold by Aventis, StarLink corn is not permitted in human food, because of evidence that it may cause allergic reactions. Testing this past year has shown that numerous food products, such as taco shells, are contaminated by StarLink corn.

"The CDC/FDA results are far from definitive," said Rebecca Goldburg, a senior scientist at Environmental Defense. "CDC and FDA only examined reactions of a small number of people who asked to be assessed, rather than examining people most likely to suffer allergic reactions to StarLink. Those most likely to suffer such reactions include young children, who are especially vulnerable to developing food allergies, and food industry workers, who are heavily exposed to corn."

Aventis has incurred considerable expense since the discovery of StarLink contamination in human food. Among other expenses, the company has paid a price premium to farmers to buy back StarLink-contaminated corn supplies. In April 2001 the company for the second time petitioned the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow StarLink corn in human food.

"Today's results are a small bit of evidence about the health impacts of StarLink corn," said Goldburg. "The results are entirely insufficient to support an EPA decision to allow StarLink corn in human food. Consumers should not be asked to bear health risks as a result of Aventis' failure to prevent food contamination by StarLink corn."