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Banned StarLink Corn Found
in Food Aid Shipments to Bolivia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 10, 2002

contacts: Matt Rand, NET, 01 202-887-8800
Larry Bohlen, FoE, 01 202-783-7400 x251

ILLEGAL GENETICALLY ENGINEERED
STARLINK CORN CONTAMINATES FOOD AID

OTHER TYPES NOT APPROVED BY THE E.U. ALSO FOUND

Global Leaders at World Food Summit Asked to Prevent Further
Contamination

Cochabamba, Bolivia; Rome;Washington, DC - The Bolivian Forum on
Environment and Development (FOBOMADE), a citizens' group in Bolivia,
announced today that a sample of U.S. Agency for International
Development (USAID) food aid tested positive for the presence of
StarLink genetically engineered corn, a variety not approved for human
consumption due to health concerns. Centro Humboldt (Friends of the
Earth Nicaragua) simultaneously announced the StarLink and other food
aid contamination findings in Rome at the World Food Summit, held June
10-13 - a gathering of world leaders discussing strategies to feed the
hungry. The groups expressed outrage that more than a year after
StarLink was found in the U.S. food supply it has appeared in food aid.
They criticized the USAID and the World Food Program and demanded that
genetically engineered crops not be sent as food aid to countries that
have not formulated biosafety regulations. They also emphasized the
critical need to protect the birthplaces of corn from genetic
contamination.

"The U.S. considers this genetically engineered corn unfit for human
consumption and has banned it for years. Yet it has been sent to
Bolivia as food aid," said Gabriel Hervas, President of the Bolivian
Forum on Environment and Development.

This is the first time that StarLink has been found in food aid and the
first time it has been found outside the U.S., Japan and Korea since
originally detected in the U.S. in August 2000. All test results were
confirmed using DNA analysis conducted by Genetic ID, an independent
laboratory located in Iowa.

StarLink was not approved for human consumption due to a finding by the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the bacterial protein
engineered into every cell of the corn exhibits "characteristics of
known allergens." Possible health effects of this category of allergen
include nausea and anaphylactic shock, but are not currently known due
to a lack of adequate testing by government and industry. The corn was
originally found by Friends of the Earth and the Genetically Engineered
Food Alert coalition in taco shells manufactured by Kraft Foods.

The U.S. government recalled over 300 contaminated food products, more
than 200 people reported possibly related illnesses, and the EPA
concluded one year later on July 28, 2001 that no level of StarLink
could be determined to be safe for human consumption. The manufacturer
of the corn, Aventis, appealed to the EPA to allow a tolerance level for
StarLink in food, but was denied. The company has since been mired in
multiple lawsuits and has sold its biotechnology division to Bayer.
EPA scientific advisors concluded in their final report on StarLink
that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control had conducted flawed tests to
determine if StarLink is a human allergen. In their July 2001 report,
they recommended that more testing be conducted, especially with
has taken no further action.

Friends of the Earth U.S. facilitated the DNA confirmation testing and
diagnostic test kits used for initial screening were distributed to
organizations worldwide by the Genetically Engineered Food Alert
coalition based in the U.S. The coalition provided the kits to more than
40 groups worldwide to assist people seeking to protect themselves from
StarLink and identify unapproved varieties of corn in the absence of
labeling and careful separation of engineered crops by authorities.

The sample sent for testing by FOBOMADE also contained two other types
of engineered corn not approved in the European Union (EU) - RoundUp
Ready and BtXtra, both produced by Monsanto.

Colectivo Madre Selva, a citizens' group in Guatemala also examined a
sample of seed sent as food aid and found three varieties of engineered
corn not approved in the EU -Liberty Link produced by Aventis and
Monsanto's BtXtra and RoundUp Ready.

Centro Humboldt, working with other members of the Network for a
GMO-Free Nicaragua, obtained samples of food aid from different parts of
the country. One seed sample contained 3.8% of a GMO variety approved
in the U.S. and the EU, and three samples of a corn and soy flour blend
contained Monsanto's RoundUp Ready corn.

"It is unacceptable that the children of Nicaragua are consuming
genetically modified products that come masked as food aid for
our country. It is well known that baby food companies in the
U.S. and Europe do not use genetically modified products," said
Julio Sanchez of Centro Humboldt.

In a news release dated May 24, 2002, the World Food Program declared
that "The WFP does NOT distribute food that is NOT acceptable for human
consumption by the citizens of the producing countries (donor countries)
and by the countries that receive the food assistance." In 2000, Dan
Glickman, then Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, said
that the agency would make sure StarLink did not enter food aid.

"While working to alleviate famine and drought, the World Food Program
and USAID must ensure that genetically engineered crops do not threaten
the health, local agriculture and environment of people in countries
they are trying to help," said Larry Bohlen, Health and Environment
Programs Director at Friends of the Earth U.S. "You can't feed the
world with genetically modified food if the food you are sending is not
fit to eat."

The global grassroots testing effort examined samples between September
2001 and June 2002. Samples taken in 2001 typically had dates in 2002
meaning that genetically modified food aid may still be in warehouses or
planted this growing season in Guatemala and Nicaragua farm fields.

Food aid with genetically modified seed may be another pathway of
genetically engineered crops into one of the birthplaces of corn,
creating a form of biological pollution that cannot be recalled.
Commercial imports of corn seed for food to Mexico has recently been
reported as a likely pathway threatening native Mexican varieties.

ABOUT THE GE FOOD ALERT COALITION AND GEFoodAlert.org
Genetically Engineered Food Alert founding members include: Center for
Food Safety, Friends of the Earth, Institute for Agriculture and Trade
Policy, National Environmental Trust, Organic Consumers Association,
Pesticide Action Network North America, and the State Public Interest
Research Groups.

Genetically Engineered Food Alert supports the removal of genetically
engineered ingredients from grocery store shelves unless they are
adequately safety tested and labeled. The campaign provides web-based
opportunities for individuals to express concern about genetically
engineered food and fact sheets on health, environmental and economic
information about genetically engineered food. The campaign is endorsed
by more than 250 scientists, religious leaders, doctors, chefs,
environmental and health leaders, as well as farm groups.

BACKGROUND MATERIAL AVAILABLE ON WEB
www.foe.org/foodaid

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