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NEWS OF THE WEEK
AGBIOTECH
August 6, 2001
Volume 79, Number 32
CENEAR 79 32 p. 9
ISSN 0009-2347
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StarLink Residues Are Potentially Allergenic

BETTE HILEMAN

EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel has concluded that there is a "medium likelihood" that the bioengineered Cry9C protein found in StarLink corn is a human allergen and says the corn should be kept out of the human food supply because there is no way to guarantee that it will not cause allergic reactions in some people.

In April, StarLink's maker, Aventis CropSciences, asked EPA to allow StarLink in processed food at residue levels up to 20 ppb. Last year, hundreds of products, such as taco shells, were recalled because they were found to contain low levels of StarLink, which has been approved only for use as animal feed.

Earlier this year, FDA tested food eaten by 17 people who claimed an allergic reaction to StarLink, but found no Cry9C protein in any of the samples. However, the EPA panel says allergy tests conducted thus far are insufficient to establish that Cry9C protein in food is safe. One problem is that the antibody test FDA used was designed to detect the Cry9C protein derived from bacteria rather than the Cry9C protein found in StarLink. The two proteins have slightly different amino acid sequences.

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