CORN IN DOG FOOD
Since 2001, corn has been genetically engineered to kill insects and other pests BUT it feeds the animals we eat, is in most pet foods, and GMO corn is still on our table in 2017.
K.T. Arasu - CHICAGO (Reuters) 2001
Environmental group Greenpeace said it had detected traces of a gene-altered corn variety not approved for human consumption in vegetarian corn dogs made by Kellogg Co.
In early 2000, a Greenpeace scientist urged the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to order a nationwide recall of Kellogg's Morningstar Farms brand meatless corn dogs that Greenpeace said contain StarLink corn. In a history-setting precedent, it was the first-ever recall of a genetically modified food.
StarLink corn was already barred from human consumption because of concerns it might trigger allergic reactions. When the genetically modified organism was discovered in another company's taco shells, it prompted a massive recall of more than 300 food products.
Christine Ervin, a spokeswoman for Battle Creek, a Michigan-based Kellogg food company, said the company had sent the corn dogs for independent testing. "We understand that the lab they (Greenpeace) sent it to has supposedly found it (StarLink)," Ervin told Reuters. "We have informed the FDA and are sending it for independent testing."
She said the company has not decided whether to recall the corn dogs.
In late September, Kraft Foods, a unit of Philip Morris Cos., caused a stir when it said traces of a genetically modified StarLink corn variety, engineered by European pharmaceutical giant Aventis SA, were detected in Taco Bell brand taco shells.
StarLink was also found in food products in Japan, the top buyer of U.S. corn, and South Korea, which led to sharp declines in American corn imports by the two Asian nations.
The U.S. Agriculture Department said in a monthly report released on Thursday that StarLink had hurt U.S. corn exports, helping to pummel prices to about 15-year lows. Farmers claiming to have suffered financially from the slump in corn exports and lower prices have filed class-action lawsuits against the U.S. unit of Aventis. Industry sources said it would cost Aventis hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate farmers who grew StarLink or had their corn contaminated by the variety.
Greenpeace genetic engineering specialist Charles Margulis told a news conference on Thursday that tests commissioned by the group on three Kellogg food products revealed a gene-altered soy ingredient and genetically modified corn.
"We tested three Kellogg products purchased from a Maryland Safeway store in late February," Margulis said. "We sent them to a British laboratory for genetic-engineering testing. All three products tested positive for genetically engineered soy, and one product tested positive for Bt corn, a genetically engineered corn.
"The product with the Bt corn...we decided to see if it contained StarLink," Margulis said. "The British lab doesn't do StarLink testing, so we sent another sample of the product to Genetic ID, a lab in Iowa...and the product tested positive for StarLink."
He said the tests showed that Kellogg's Morningstar non-meat burgers and vegetable patties contained a genetically modified soy ingredient, but not StarLink corn. Margulis said the tests showed Morningstar corn dogs contained less than 1 percent StarLink, the same amount found in previously recalled food items.
Kellogg said that its Worthington Foods unit had never claimed in its labeling that its products were free of genetically modified crops. An FDA spokeswoman said the agency is investigating the Greenpeace complaint and that it is testing a variety of foods containing corn for the presence of StarLink.
The USDA announced a buy-back program on Wednesday of some corn seed contaminated with StarLink bio-corn's unique protein, known as Cry9C, but had no other comment.
Food makers said most of the controversy stems from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's 1998 approval of StarLink for animal feed but not for human consumption. On Wednesday, the EPA announced it would not grant any more so-called "split registrations," allowing a biotech plant to be used for animal feed but not for humans.
"The key point is that StarLink's presence in food is the result of the failed policy of the approval process set by the EPA," said Peter Cleary, spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America. "That system allowed StarLink to enter the food supply." Cleary emphasized the gene-spliced corn is not a threat to health.
"Our industry learned a real hard lesson with the taco shells," said David Uchic, a spokesman for the National Corn Growers Association, referring to the massive food recall. "We don't want any seed corn going to the ground that is not verified to be StarLink-free," Uchic said. "We believe this is going to address the corn crop this year and the food products that come out of it."
Editor's note: A biochemist subscriber stated "GMO corn kills the insects that eat it but it has yet to be determined what effect it would have on human health or the genetics of humans."