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Source: LA Times (November 29, 2000)
44 Claim Illness From Eating StarLink Corn
By JULIE VORMAN, Reuters
WASHINGTON--Forty-four Americans have complained that
they became ill after eating foods containing StarLink bio-corn, but
investigators may never be able to pinpoint whether the genetically
modified maize was to blame, federal officials said Tuesday.
Scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
and the Food and Drug Administration said they were investigating
the claims that Aventis' gene-spliced StarLink corn might have
caused rashes, diarrhea, vomiting, itching and life-threatening
"We're continuing to follow these people and are trying to get as
much medical information as we can," said Dr. Karl Klontz, an
In the absence of the specific laboratory tests that the CDC
would like to see developed, Klontz presented summaries of the
illnesses to a panel of independent scientists. The Environmental
Protection Agency asked the group to assess whether StarLink,
modified to repel destructive pests, presents a health risk to
StarLink was approved for use only as animal feed in 1998
because of concerns that its special protein might cause allergic
reactions in humans. Traces of the corn turned up in taco shells in
September, triggering a recall and widespread genetic testing by
The EPA is now considering whether to grant Aventis
temporary approval to use StarLink in human food. The company
faces potentially huge liability costs if the agency maintains its
Klontz said all 44 cases were reported to the FDA after news
reports in September about StarLink contamination. All of the
complaints were self-reported, not submitted by a physician or
public health official.
The incidents are likely to play an important role in helping the
EPA decide whether StarLink and its protein, Cry9C, still pose a
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