Biotech corn caused reaction
Virginia (AP) -- Scientists considering whether a variety of biotech
corn should be allowed into the food supply heard from a Florida
optometrist that he's allergic to the grain despite a negative government
Keith Finger showed the panel pictures of welts and rashes he says
he suffered Sunday after he ate a mixture of StarLink corn and water.
He says he earlier had allergic reactions to tortilla chips that
tested positive for the corn.
itching was horrible," Finger told the scientists Tuesday.
member of the panel, Dean Metcalfe, an allergy specialist at the
National Institutes of Health, said symptoms like Finger's would
be sufficiently convincing for a doctor to order tests to tell whether
he was allergic to the corn.
is among 17 people whose blood the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention tested in the spring for sensitivity to a special protein
in the corn. The tests were negative. Like Finger, all the 17 people
had reported allergic reactions after eating corn products.
of the scientists questioned the effectiveness of the test and why
the government had not sought out more potential victims by contacting
doctors around the country. Federal officials said they lacked the
money for wider-ranging tests.
of the corn in taco shells last fall led to nationwide recalls of
corn products. The corn has been withdrawn from the market, but
the crop's developer, Aventis CropScience, is asking the Environmental
Protection Agency to allow a minimal amount in the food supply to
avoid further recalls.
scientific advisers are deciding whether the agency should set a
maximum level for the corn of 20 parts per billion.
The scientists are not expected to issue their recommendation for
special protein in the corn, called Cry9C, breaks down slowly in
the digestive system, an indication that it might induce allergic
reactions. However, scientists say people would have to be exposed
to the protein repeatedly to become sensitive to it.
is among several varieties of corn genetically engineered to produce
their own pesticides. StarLink corn was supposed to have been grown
and handled separately from other grain, but farmers often failed
to do so.
Agriculture Department reported Tuesday that it had accounted for
all but 720,000 of the 128 million bushels of StarLink corn. Another
4.9 million bushels may have been mixed with grain that went to
Gill, a USDA official, said most of the corn should have been caught
in testing by processors and shippers.
a report to the scientists, EPA says the actual levels of StarLink
in U.S. corn supplies range from 0.34 to 8 parts