NET: Comment & Advocacy re:EPA's StarLink statement

Gary Greenberg Gary.Greenberg at Duke.edu
Wed Dec 13 07:20:28 EST 2000

December 5, 2000 


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 Groups (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

The EPA scientific advisory panel report can be found at


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 contact Amanda Gordon, 202-887-8831, Matt Rand,
202-887-8841 or visit www.gefoodalert.org

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The National Environmental Trust is a national, non-profit environmental
organization providing public policy expertise and educational outreach
on national environmental issues.

The Learning Disabilities Association of America is a national,
non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of
life for individuals with learning disabilities and to supporting
endeavors to determine the causes of learning disabilities.

Physicians for Social Responsibility is a national organization of over
20,000 physicians, health care professionals, and concerned citizens
working to create a world free of nuclear weapons, global environmental
pollution and gun violence.

Gary N. Greenberg, MD MPH    Sysop / Moderator Occ-Env-Med-L MailList
gary.greenberg at duke.edu     Duke Occupat, Environ, Int & Fam Medicine
OEM-L Maillist Website:                      http://occhealthnews.com


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