Scientists from around the country are meeting in the Nations capital today to try to resolve public health questions swirling around bioengineered corn.
As this ScienCentral News video reports, while the experts review whether StarLink corn is safe, more foods containing StarLink are being pulled from stores.
May 12, 1998 StarLink, a brand of yellow corn genetically engineered to resist pests by including the Cry9C protein, is approved for livestock feed and industrial use. It is not approved for human consumption, as it cannot be shown that the Cry9C protein wont cause an allergic reaction.
September 18, 2000 StarLink corn comes to public attention when its genetically engineered protein is found in Kraft Taco Bell taco shells. Some 2.5 million boxes are subsequently recalled, and a debate begins as to whether the Cry9C protein can cause an allergic reaction in humans.
September 26, 2000 Aventis, the corporation that owns StarLink, formally halts selling StarLink seeds.
October 2000 Corporations take steps to remove the corn from throughout the food production chain. Gruma, a corn miller, and Mission Foods, a U.S. tortilla maker, each remove all their yellow corn products; Safeway Foods, Food Lion Inc., and Shaw Supermarkets all pull their private label products from store shelves. More than 200 products, including flour, tortilla chips, and snack foods, are eventually recalled.
November 21, 2000 Garst Seed Co. finds Cry9C protein in a variety of corn not sold under the StarLink trademark.
November 28, 2000 Forty-four consumer complaints of adverse effects from yellow corn prompt the Food and Drug Administration to contact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test for allergenicity from the Cry9C protein. Thirteen of the 44 visited doctors due to their symptoms; 17 agreed to have blood drawn. This was also the day of the first EPA Scientific Advisory Panel meeting, at which the EPA asked the expert panel to provide an independent scientific assessment on the potential allergenicity, sensitization and possible exposure to StarLink corn.
February 2001 Aventis corporation officially removes the registration of StarLink, thereby preventing farmers from planting it.
March 7, 2001 EPA assures the public that the type of split pesticide registration that approved StarLink to be used solely for animal feed will no longer be considered a regulatory option for products of biotechnology.
April 19, 2001 Aventis petitions EPA to set a tolerance or allowable level of StarLink corn in food of 20 parts per billion (ppb).
June 2001 Published results from the CDC cannot confirm that people suffered allergic reactions caused by the Cry9C protein.
July 2001 Genetic material from StarLink corn again appears in food for human consumptionthis time white corn tortilla chipsand is voluntarily pulled from supermarket shelves.
July 17 and 18, 2001 The EPA Scientific Advisory Panel is meeting to advise the agency on whether small amounts of StarLink can be safely allowed in human foods.