22 November 2000
GM protein found in natural corn

By FWi staff

A GENETICALLY-MODIFIED corn protein which can cause an allergic reaction has been found in conventional seed corn intended for human use.

StarLink corn was genetically engineered to produce a plant more resistant to the European corn borer, reports the Ananova website.

It has only been approved for animal feed because the StarLink protein could cause an allergic reaction in some people.

However, traces of StarLink turned up in the food supply in September.

And when records were checked it emerged that nearly 1.2 million bushels of this years StarLink corn crop was unaccounted for.

Now there are fears that StarLink protein may have been in corn which has already been processed.

Aventis CropScience, which developed StarLink, conducted tests after farmers said corn with no known connection to Starlink was testing positive for the protein.

The company told Ananova it did not know how the protein came to be present in another variety of corn.

This is not the first scare involving StarLink in recent months.

This autumn it emerged that taco shells by Taco Bell Corp, the biggest seller of Mexican fast food in the USA, contained StarLink maize.

Within days, major retailers pulled all Taco Bell taco shells from store shelves nationwide, the first time that a GM food had been recalled from the US retail market.

The Taco Bell restaurant chain announced it would stop selling the shells through its fast food sites — another GM first.

Then the seller of the seed Aventis, pulled the GM seed variety off the US market for the 2001 crop, an unprecedented biotech move.