When Science Gets in the Way of Pet Agendas

On June 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a report about StarLink corn.1 Remember StarLink? Marketed by Aventis Seeds, it contained a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The Cry9C protein encoded by the gene rendered the plants resistant to chewing insects. But unlike other varieties of Bt corn, StarLink was not approved for human consumption because of questions about potential allergenicity. Data provided to the Environmental Protectio

Barry Palevitz
Jul 22, 2001
On June 11, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta issued a report about StarLink corn.1 Remember StarLink? Marketed by Aventis Seeds, it contained a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt. The Cry9C protein encoded by the gene rendered the plants resistant to chewing insects. But unlike other varieties of Bt corn, StarLink was not approved for human consumption because of questions about potential allergenicity. Data provided to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that Cry9C protein is not as quickly digested as other Bt proteins, potentially allowing more time for the body to make antibodies against it. The evidence was circumstantial, but EPA acted cautiously by approving StarLink for animal use only.2

EPA erred badly--in hindsight, it's not surprising that StarLink made its way into the human food stream. Last September, a genetic testing lab hired by environmental activists detected StarLink's...

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