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EPA Has Approved a Likely Allergenic Starlink-Type Corn

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Date: Tue, 09 Dec 2003 11:24:39 -0800
From: Chuck Benbrook
Subject: Pusztai Insights

As I do from time to time, I posted the below to the Sanet
listserve, in an attempt to stir up a little interest in Pusztai's
writtings and to get "Yield Guard Plus" onto people's radar screens.

Jane or someone -- please FOIA or get a copy of the three volumes
submitted with the Yield Guard Plus application (one on the transgenes,
one on expression levels, and one seeking exemptions from ALL other
requirements). I am absolutely incredulous that EPA approved this with
no new data or discussion. I spoke to Kendall Lampkey at ISU re this
when in Ames for Arpad's presentation. (Kendall holds the Pioneer chair
ion corn genetics, great guy). He said, to his knowledge, no one at ISU
had spent 5 minutes thinking about the consequences of crossing two
inbred lines, each independently engineered to express a different Bt
toxin. How reassuring, and what a sign of the times.

I think this decision warrants some attention from the
consumer/environmental community.

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Sanet message --

In support of Arpad Pusztai's trip to America, we have posted
several items on his GM food safety research, accessible at --

http://www.biotech-info.net/AP_visit.html#papers

I have learned much from the traveling with Arpad. I was unaware
of how strong the scientific evidence is that some portion of ingested Bt
toxins survive digestion and pass through the gut; some portion bind to
the walls of tissues in the alimentary tract; trigger immunological
responses (called by some researchers "potent" responses); move into the
bloodstream; and, trigger immunological responses in the liver. The
foundation of U.S. government regulatory approvals -- substantial
equivalence -- rests on the assertion that none of these things can happen.

Despite lessons learned in the StarLink episode, EPA has approved
this summer the Cry 3Bb1 Bt corn for rootworm control. This event
expresses the toxin at relatively high levels in pollen and corn grain
(where the toxin does no good, of course), and indeed looks like it may
be as bad as, or worse than StarLink as a human allergen. Still, on Nov.
3, 2003 EPA approved the first stacked Bt corn -- hybrids from inbred
lines including Mon 810 corn for European corn borer control, and Mon
863, Cry 3Bb1 corn for rootworm control. EPA requested no new data on any
potential risk from corn plants simultaneously expressing two Bt toxins
in all plant tissues. No reconsideration of changes in nontarget risks;
allergenicity potential; resistance risk. Not one shred of data to
address whether having two sets of transgene promoters and marker genes
functioning in a plant might lead to some unexpected "cross-talk" -- one
promoter turning on/off the function of the other, or excessively
stimulating expression.

At least some independent scientists who are following research
on Bt crop food safety are surprised, to put it mildly, that this new
stacked Bt corn has been approved with no additional scientific
assessment, nor any open discussion with scientists who might have some
idea/insights into how the dual transgenes might impact the stability of
gene expression.

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5085 Upper Pack River Road IPM site
Sandpoint, Idaho 83864
Voice: (208)-263-5236
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