Washington, DC, June 14, 2001—The Competitive Enterprise Institute welcomes a report by the Centers for Disease Control that finds no signs of an allergic response to the biotech-engineered corn known as StarLink.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
“We’re pleased that the CDC report is finally out, and we hope that it will begin allaying concerns about biotech foods,” said Gregory Conko, CEI’s Director of Food Safety Policy. “These products are tested so thoroughly prior to commercialization that it is extraordinarily unlikely for an allergenic protein to make it onto the market.”
Concerns about potential allergic reactions from the StarLink corn variety arose last summer when it was discovered in some consumer food products after only being approved for use in animal feed. More than 40 people reported various adverse reactions after its discovery in the food supply. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration identified 28 of those people who appeared to have suffered allergic responses to something. All 28 were chosen for follow-up testing, and the CDC found that the biotech protein in StarLink corn, which protects crops against insect pests, did not cause their allergic reactions.
“Concerns about allergic reactions to biotech foods are simply a diversionary tactic to scare consumers away from biotechnology,” said Conko. “Activists have condemned only the newer and more precise technique for modifying plants, even though novel proteins are introduced into the food supply all the time by both conventional means and through biotechnology with few problems. One can only suspect that the activists are less interested in human health than in simply opposing technological progress.”
Several biotechnology-derived corn varieties have been approved for general use. But the Environmental Protection Agency initially declined consumer approval for StarLink due to concerns that the protein took longer to digest than most other proteins. However, additional tests suggested that StarLink was not allergenic, and the EPA had been considering full commercial approval prior to its appearance in the consumer food supply.
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