The U.S. government has stated that there is no evidence that anyone has had an allergic reaction to genetically modified StarLink corn. The corn has spread throughout the U.S. food supply, despite the fact that it was originally supposed to be kept separate and used only for animal feed. The results of recent tests could clear the way for the EPA to allow small amounts of the corn to be present in food without leading to recalls.
StarLink contains a bacteria gene that permits the corn to produce a protein that kills the corn borer. But the protein has some of the characteristics of an allergen, since it is not easily digested in the human stomach.
The FDA tested the blood of 17 people who reported suffering allergic reactions to the corn, ranging from upset stomachs to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. The examined the blood to see if it contained antibodies to the protein in StarLink which could be a possible allergen, but no such antibodies were found. ?We do not have any positive results whatsoever,? says Dr. Carol Rubin, a research scientist at the National Center for Environmental Health.
?We are pleased, but not the slightest bit surprised,? says L. Val Giddings of the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
?These tests are not proof that StarLink corn is safe for human consumption,? counters Matt Rand, a spokesman for Genetically Engineered Food Alert. ?This is not a thorough investigation.?
The main concern with StarLink corn is not necessarily that it will cause human allergies. The point is that we were assured that the corn would not spread to other fields, containing non-genetically altered crops, and that the corn itself would not infiltrate the corn in foods found on grocery store shelves?and both these promises have been broken.
Now that the government has finally admitted that it is unable to control the flow of StarLink corn, it belatedly announces that the corn isn?t dangerous. This creates a dangerous precedent for future varieties of genetically-engineered crops. If the spread of these varieties cannot be controlled, this means that native versions of the foods we rely on may disappear, and if we later find out that there is a problem with the newly-engineered foods, it may be too late.
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