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300 Foods Recalled Because of Possible Starlink Link

      WASHINGTON, Nov. 2 (UPI) -- A list issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday showed nearly 300 food products have been recalled since StarLink was detected in the food chain.

      The bio-engineered corn had been approved only for animal consumption and industrial use but some farmers said they were never warned to keep it segregated.

      The recall involves items distributed both by restaurants and grocery stores and includes 70 types of taco chips, 80 kinds of taco shells and nearly 100 items served by restaurants such as Wendy''s and Applebee''s. The products are produced by Mission Foods of Irving, Texas, which initiated the recall after Genetically Engineered Food Alert, an anti-biotechnology umbrella group that includes Friends of the Earth and the Public Interest Research Group, detected StarLink in Safeway taco shells last month.

      StarLink is a genetically engineered corn produced by Aventis CropScience of Research Triangle Park, N.C. It produces a protein, Cry9C, which is toxic to pests and difficult for humans to digest, making it a possible human allergen.

      StarLink is the only biotech corn that had not been approved both for human and animal consumption at the same time. Aventis has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to grant it a waiver for the 1999 and 2000 crops and U.S. Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman this week urged the EPA to expedite its review.

      Aventis has admitted it has been unable to account for all of the StarLink crop. Initially it said 9.6 million bushels - about 12 percent of the crop - was missing. Last week, that figure was adjusted to 4.8 million bushels. The company is trying to buy up all of this year''s production, which will then be turned over to Department of Agriculture control.

      StarLink represents about 0.5 percent of the more than 10-billion-bushel U.S. corn crop. Some 40 percent of it was planted in Iowa, the nation''s biggest corn-producing state, where it is feared half the corn stored in elevators may contain traces of StarLink.

      The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday StarLink was detected in 25 cars of an 81-car grain train headed for an Archer Daniels Midland Co. mill, which had to be diverted to a livestock operation at an additional cost of $11,000. The corn came from Superior Cooperative Elevator Co. in Estherville, Iowa.

      Spokesman Gary Strube said the incident was the second in a week, bringing the elevator''s total StarLink-related costs so far to $35,000.

      "If they (Aventis) pick up the tab, we won''t sue," Strube said.

      ADM told the Journal it plans to bill Aventis for the cost of screening hundreds of trucks and railcars pouring into its Decatur, Ill., mills. ADM said it has had to hire dozens of people and buy thousands of test kits.

      "Aventis is going to have to compensate us," an ADM spokesman said.

      The FDA said it has received several reports of people suffering allergic reactions as a result of eating StarLink-tainted products but has not yet confirmed those reports.

      StarLink was first detected in September in Taco Bell brand taco shells made by Kraft for sale in grocery stores. Kraft immediately recalled the product once the presence of StarLink was confirmed.

(C) 2000 UPI All Rights Reserved.




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