GEFA Coalition Reports on Latest StarLink Corn Report

Tuesday, December 5, 2000
Contact: Amanda Gordon, 202-887-8831, Matt Rand, 202-887-8841

EPA Scientific Advisory Panel Confirms that StarLink® Corn Poses Potential
Allergen Risk

Aventis CropScience Unable to Convince Allergen Experts of Corn's Safety

Washington, DC - In a report released today, an Environmental Protection
Agency scientific advisory panel (SAP) confirmed that StarLink® genetically
engineered corn is a potential food allergen. The panel concluded that the
protein Cry9C found in the corn could be a food allergen and was
unconvinced by the data submitted by Aventis CropScience asserting that
there was no allergenic risk.

In a one-day meeting held in Washington, DC on November 28, the scientific
advisory panel probed questions about whether StarLink® corn could be a
food allergen to consumers, and the degree to which its proliferation in
the human food supply could be a health risk to consumers. The panel
comprised of experts from around the world heard presentations by EPA,
incidence reports filed to the agency by consumers who claimed they had
allergic reactions after eating StarLink® and testimony from Aventis
CropScience, the corn's developer, along with other industry and public
interest groups.

EPA convened the SAP to collect more information after Aventis requested a
four-year exemption on StarLink®, a move that would allow the product into
the human food supply, even though EPA previously approved it as animal
feed. Aventis submitted data to the agency trying to convince EPA of the
safety of StarLink® corn for consumers and testified at length at the SAP,
arguing their case. Aventis was unable to convince an expert panel that the
corn is safe in the human food supply.

"According to the report, there is a chance that StarLink® corn that
entered the food supply could cause an allergic reaction for anyone who
eats a product that contains StarLink®," said Larry Bohlen, Health and
Environment Programs Director at Friends of the Earth.

This is the same determination that a scientific advisory panel made in
their assessment of the corn last February. Aventis was denied its appeals
to the EPA to approve StarLink® corn for human consumption.

"This is the second time that the EPA has convened an advisory panel on
StarLink® and both times it has concluded that concerns about StarLink® in
the food supply are valid," said Richard Caplan, Environmental Advocate for
The State Public Interest Research Group s (PIRGs).

One National Academy of Sciences scientist on the panel stated that there
is no threshold for what amount of a substance makes a food allergen.
Meaning that even extremely small amounts of the protein could cause an
allergic reaction in humans.

Additionally, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) uncovered submissions by
Aventis that show the level of the suspected protein allergen engineered
into the corn may be 20-500 times higher than reported by Aventis last
week. The information my be found on Senator Durbin's website at:

EPA Exemption Should Not be Granted to Aventis
Without a 'green light' from a panel of experts and scientists, the
Genetically Engineered Food Alert will call on the EPA to again deny an
exemption to Aventis CropScience.

"Because the scientific advisory panel was unable to say conclusively that
StarLink® is safe to eat, the EPA cannot, with a clear conscience, approve
it," said Phil Clapp, President of the National Environmental Trust. "EPA
should not race through this process and let Aventis off the hook."

The EPA scientific advisory panel report can be found at

About the GE Food Alert Campaign and
Genetically Engineered Food Alert founding members include: Center for Food
Safety, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy,
National Environmental Trust, Organic Consumers Association, Pesticide
Action Network North America, and the State Public Interest Research Groups.

Genetically Engineered Food Alert supports the removal of genetically
engineered ingredients from grocery store shelves unless they are
adequately safety tested and labeled. The campaign provides web-based
opportunities for individuals to express concern about genetically
engineered food and fact sheets on health, environmental and economic
information about genetically engineered food. The campaign is endorsed by
more than 250 scientists, religious leaders, doctors, chefs, environmental
and health leaders, as well as farm groups.

For more information, visit

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