Activists ask EPA to deny altered corn

The Associated Press
Friday November 17, 2000

SAN FRANCISCO — Activists wearing biohazard suits dumped about two tons of genetically-altered corn at Environmental Protection Agency offices in San Francisco Thursday in hopes the agency will not approve the corn. 

Environmentalists say StarLink corn, produced by the biotechnology company Aventis, should be denied EPA approval because it is not fit for human consumption and may cause potential health risks including allergic reaction. 

Greenpeace spokeswoman Kimberly Wilson said Starlink is not approved for direct human consumption, only for animal intake, likely because it contains a genetically engineered plant pesticide. The corn, however, has made its way into the country's food supply and forced the recall of hundreds of food items. 

Last month, in fact, a coalition of health and environmental groups sought the recall of Safeway-brand taco shells said to contain the adulterated corn. The coalition also found the product in Taco Bell shells that were recalled by the Food and Drug Administration and the Kraft Company in September. 

Aventis, which also markets the corn, is seeking temporary approval of the feed corn for human consumption in order to curb recall losses, which have amounted to $1 billion, according to activists. 

The EPA allegedly found data indicating the corn contains a protein exhibiting characteristics of allergens that pose health risks such as nausea and anaphylactic shock, threats the groups say indicate the need for stronger government regulation over genetically engineered foods. 

Wilson, who along with about 30 activists attended the dumping today, said the EPA was “trying to do the right thing,” and while her meeting with officials inside EPAoffices was brief, they were “receptive” to the letter she delivered. 

EPA officials were not available for comment.