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US Food Giants Get Slap on
Wrist for Starlink Corn Fiasco

March 7, 2002, Thursday, BC cycle

SECTION: Domestic News; Business News

Judge approves $9 million settlement in engineered-corn suit

By MIKE ROBINSON, Associated Press

CHICAGO:

A federal judge approved a $9 million settlement Thursday in a lawsuit over
genetically modified corn that found its way into products on supermarket
shelves.

Under the settlement approved by U.S. District Judge James Moran, a group
of food companies will attach $6 million in coupons, each good for a dollar
off, to packages of their products.

Any portion of the $6 million not used by consumers through the coupons will
be paid into a fund that will be used to support as-yet-undetermined
charities or food research groups. The Chicago law firm of Krislov and
Associates will receive $2.4 million for filing the class-action lawsuit on
behalf of consumers who said they suffered allergic reactions from eating
food products that contained the genetically modified corn.

Attorney Clinton A. Krislov said the defendants have not disclosed how much
each of them will contribute to the $9 million settlement amount. Some
$600,000 is earmarked for administering the coupon program.

The StarLink corn seed was created by one of the defendants in the case,
Aventis CropScience USA Holding Inc. of Research Triangle Park, N.C. It was
licensed to Garst Seed Co. of Slater, Iowa, for sale to farmers. It was
engineered to include the protein Cry9C, which is deadly to insects that
bore their way into the corn.

StarLink seed had been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for
use in animal feed but not for human consumption.

Testing that led to the lawsuit began when a Washington-based environmental
group found the StarLink corn in taco shells. Somehow, the StarLink corn had
been mixed with regular corn in a number of cases.

Aventis and Garst were defendants in the lawsuit along with Kraft Foods Co.
of Glenview, Ill.; Azteca Foods Inc. of Chicago; Azteca Milling, Co. of
Edinburg, Texas, and a sister company, Mission Foods Co.

Aventis CropScience issued a statement saying that the company, "while it
denies any liability for the claims made in the suit, believes that the
settlement is the best possible way to move forward." Aventis CropScience
has not licensed StarLink since 2000.

Messages seeking comment were left at the corporate offices of all of the
other defendants but none was reached for comment immediately.


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