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Starlink Update ...
ACGA: Industry Should Pay to Segregate | Genetic ID Responds to Aventis Attack

(21 September - Cropchoice News) -- Poisoned arrows are flying in the controversy over Starlink Bt corn contamination of Taco Bell taco shells. The company that makes Starlink, Aventis, didn't just fire back at the activists that accused it. Aventis also flung a barb at Genetic ID, the independent lab that did the testing. Aventis doesn't deny Genetic ID's results, it says it isn't sure about them yet. Starlink has not been approved by the government for human consumption and its presence in supermarket food would be a violation of federal law.

Genetic ID, which has clients from across the food and agriculture industry, stands by its record and denies the Aventis accusation that it erroneously detected unapproved GMOs in a Japanese snack food last year. Aventis officials told the press on Monday that "Past experience with Genetic ID for other products is that similar allegations were discovered to be incorrect when more thoroughly reviewed." But Jeff Smith of Genetic ID says Aventis is wrong. According to Smith, "The findings were not disproved, in fact, we retested the sample several times and are confident that it contained traces of at least one unapproved variety."

The disagreement centers around the fact that when the Japanese government retested the snack food several months later it did not find the banned GMO. Smith says "they were testing an entirely different sample, possibly from a different lot... [the] test obviously does not refute the results" that Genetic ID obtained.

Aventis' gripe seems to have more to do with Iowa-based Genetic ID's open door policy than any strong grounds to question the lab's scientific reputation. Genetic ID is neutral on biotech and will do its PCR-based tests on samples provided by anyone who pays, including activists. This can lead to its results being used by both sides of the GMO debate. The company has announced seminars on its testing techniques for the press and food industry in Chicago on September 27th.

ACGA Reaction: The American Corn Growers Association reacted to the taco shell news by saying that segregation failures by US grain companies are unfairly putting the biotech burden on American farmers. According to Dan McGuire, Director of ACGA's Farmer Choice-Customer First Program, "As the American public continues to demand the labeling of GMO products, the call for segregating of the nation's commodity supply will increase as well. Many in the grain marketing industry seem unwilling or unable to segregate GMO from non-GMO varieties and that puts an even greater burden on U.S. farmers."

ACGA says that as pressure mounts for more thorough segregation, farmers shouldn't be asked to pay . Says McGuire "The increased cost for segregating GMO from non-GMO corn varieties will add another serious level of financial stress. Protecting farmers from this additional economic hardship must be addressed before farmers begin purchasing their seed supply for the next growing season."

SOURCE: Reuters Securities, PR Newswire, ACGA