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Kraft Calls for Recall of its Genetically Engineered Corn Taco Shells

9/22, 15:40 EDT

Kraft Foods Recalls Taco Shells
By Philip Brasher
AP Farm Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) Kraft Foods recalled on Friday all taco shells that it
sells in supermarkets under the Taco Bell brand after tests confirmed they
were made with genetically engineered corn that isn't approved for human
consumption.

The corn, one of the least grown of several biotech varieties, is approved
for use only in animal feed because of questions about whether it could
cause allergic reactions in people.

Tests commissioned by an anti-biotech environmental group found traces of
the corn in taco shells that had been purchased in a Washington suburb, and
tests performed for Kraft at an independent lab found similar results, the
company said.

Kraft, a division of Philip Morris Inc., said it would discontinue
production of the shells until it can be sure there is no more of the
genetically engineered corn in the meal it buys. The company said there
appeared to be no threat to human health from the corn.

"As soon as we learned that there might be an issue in the supply chain we
purchased from, we have been guided by one priority, the safety of our
products and their compliance with all regulatory requirements,'' said Betsy
Holden, Kraft's chief executive.

The nationwide recall includes packages labeled Taco Bell Home Originals 12
Taco Shells, Taco Bell Home Originals 18 Taco Shells and Taco Bell Home
Originals Taco Dinner (12 shells, sauce and seasoning).

The corn, which contains a bacterium gene that makes it toxic to an insect
pest, is produced by Aventis Corp. and goes under the trade name StarLink.

Kraft, which made the taco shells at a plant in Mexico using corn meal
purchased from a Texas mill, said in a statement that the government should
never have allowed farmers to grow a biotech crop that isn't approved for
human consumption.

"All of us, government, industry and the scientific community, need to
work on ways to prevent this kind of situation from ever happening again,''
said Holden.

The taco shells were among 23 corn products that representatives of the
Friends of the Earth submitted to Iowa-based Genetic ID Inc. for testing for
the Cry9C protein.

The Kraft recall was a setback to the biotechnology industry, which has
been battling critics who claim the crops are a threat to human health and
the environment. In Britain, the crops have been denounced as
Frankenfood,'' but criticism in the United States has been muted.

Government regulators insist the crops are safe, and the EPA released a
study earlier this week saying none of the insect-resistant crops have been
developed so far pose any significant risks.

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