Sunday, February 24, 2008

New contamination incident in US (2/22/2008)

Unapproved biotech corn grown in Iowa
By PHILIP BRASHER, Register Washington Bureau Desmoines Register, February 22 2008
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080222/BUSINESS/80222036/-1/SPORTS01

Washington, D.C. - Some corn seed produced by Dow AgroSciences and grown in Iowa has been contaminated with small amounts of an unapproved biotech variety since 2006, the company and government officials disclosed Friday.

Federal officials said that there was no risk to humans or livestock from the grain and that it won't be recalled. However, Dow has recalled the contaminated seed that was sold for the 2008 crop.

Most of the contaminated corn was planted in Iowa and most of the recalled seed had been distributed in the state, according to the company.

It is the latest in a series of incidents in which unapproved biotech varieties of corn and rice have made their way into seed or grain supplies. The first incident occurred in 2000 when a genetically modified corn variety known as StarLink was found in food products despite not having been approved for human consumption.

Greg Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the Dow mixup shows that the biotech industry isn't policing itself adequately.

The contamination occurred when pollen from the unapproved biotech corn stalks landed on a patch of approved stalks, said Garry Hamlin, a spokesman for Dow. Both types of plants were growing in the same research plot.

Dow discovered the contaminated seed while doing some testing last month and notified the government Jan. 25, Hamlin said.

The contaminated seed was sold by Dow affiliate Mycogen Seeds under the labels Herculex RW and Herculex XTRA. The seed is genetically engineered to make the plants toxic to insect pests.

The Environmental Protection Agency said the contaminated grain posed no safety risk because the proteins produced by the unapproved Dow variety, known as Event 32, were identical to the proteins in an approved variety, known as Event 22.

NOTE: According to the USDA, FDA, EPA press statement released late Friday, 'Dow reported that in 2007 approximately 53,000 acres of the affected products were planted in the United States.'

Although the contaminated corn seed has been grown since 2006 it was apparently never detected till January this year. The US Government was told about the problem on January 25th, and has taken nearly a month to come up with a response to tell the rest of us.

According to Dow, those tens of thousands of acres of contaminated corn all originated because pollen from some unapproved GM corn stalks growing in a research plot 'landed on a patch of approved stalks'. GM crop trials anyone?

For the official US Government press release: http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/d6e59239f16a8fa1852573f7006c1fc3?OpenDocument

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