Washington: Corn Seed Contaminated with Engineered Corn

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Thursday, March 01, 2001

Corn seed contaminated with engineered corn

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Some corn seed headed for sale to farmers has been contaminated by small amounts of a genetically engineered variety of the grain that prompted mass recalls of food last year, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Seed companies detected the genetically engineered grain while testing their stocks, the newspaper said, quoting government and industry officials.

It was unclear how many seed companies found the genetic material in their products.

In response to the news, representatives of the seed industry were planning to meet with government officials on Thursday.

The engineered corn, known as StarLink, has been approved only for animal consumption because of concerns about its safety for humans.

None of the contaminated corn seed has been planted, but farmers and grain exporters fear the discovery could alarm European and Asian companies who have said they will not buy any corn suspected of being tainted by StarLink.

The creator of StarLink, Aventis CropScience, maintains the corn is safe for people and has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to approve it retroactively for humans. The EPA has chosen not to do so, because a protein in StarLink, Cry9c breaks down slowly, raising fears that it could cause allergic reactions.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 01, 2001


has been approved only for animal consumption
because of concerns about its safety for humans.

Of course there's no concern about the safety
for cows; or for that matter the humans that eat
those cows.

Aventis CropScience? Is this also Aventis Pasteur? Now that would be scary.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 01, 2001.

Not to scare anyone but they are the same ::::-

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 01, 2001.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 01, 2001.

Anyone want to fill me in.Aventis?


-- Edward Elliott (eell@webtv.net), March 01, 2001.

Anyone care to fill me in. Aventis?


-- Edward Elliott (eell@webtv.net), March 01, 2001.

spider, is your link to a US site? It's not working for me.

Ed, this link to the UK site http://www.aventis.co.uk/ says it's a pesticide company.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 01, 2001.


"Aventis Pasteur, a world leader in vaccines with the broadest range of products, produces more than one billion doses of vaccines every year to immunize 400 million people around the world. Aventis Pasteur, headquartered in Lyons, France, is one of the pharmaceutical activities of Aventis SA."

They're "committed to protecting life."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 01, 2001.

I hope this is my final post on this topic--it's spider's fault, you know. As I searched google and read on, it occurred to me that the makers of medicines and vaccines have much to gain from human illness, don't they?

http://www.aventis pasteur.com/canada/products/

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 01, 2001.

the makers of medicines and vaccines
have much to gain from human illness

You got it Rachel.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 02, 2001.

Actual explanation: Aventis Pasteur is (in part) the former Connaught Laboratories, Inc., a well-known pharmaceutical company. Aventis CropScience is no doubt another portion of their huge corporate structure, although I don't know the details.

Like essentially every other corporate entity on the entire planet, including all pharmaceutical companies, the old Connaught got caught up in merger and acquisition activity. That's why, in this case, a maker of human vaccines and other pharmaceuticals is apparently the same as a maker of transgenic corn: the companies are all under new, single corporate ownership. Much as, as one example, Kraft Foods is ultimately owned by a major tobacco company.

Think about *that* next time you eat some boxed macaroni and cheese.

Soon, all we'll have left will be one big "McCompany."

(I won't speculate about conspiracy-type ulterior motives. Will RJ Reynolds sneak bits of cigarette butts into its bland-cheese-making operation? I don't want to get into that discussion; anyhow, maybe my opinion will be suspect since I am a physician and as part of my job often recommend some of the vaccines made by Connaught--they make a rabies vaccine.)

This trend reaches its obvious conclusion in the "Alien" science- fiction movies: Sigourney Weaver's character talks about THE COMPANY, apparently the only corporate entity that exists in the future universe. Thus, she asks "Does The Company know [about the evil alien creatures]?" Chilling reply from the android: "The Company knows *everything*." (This is one of my favorite, and apparently the least appreciated, angles in the Alien movies. "The Company knows everything.")

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), March 02, 2001.

Meanwhile, lest you think I'm a shill for the pharmaceutical companies, here's some gross corporate greed from elsewhere in the industry (slight thread drift; there was a thread around here in the recent past about this company; we speculated about back-room computer problems, which is not excluded by the following news item):

Headline: Group recommends probe of Schering-Plough

Source: Associated Press, 1 Mar 2001

WASHINGTON - A major drug maker's workers complained of being pushed to increase production despite warnings of poor quality -- even after the government began cracking down on Schering-Plough Corp. for violations that ultimately caused a recall of 59 million asthma inhalers, the company's auditors said.

An internal report on a followup Food and Drug Administration inspection in January, almost a year after the warning in that confidential auditors' report, said Schering-Plough had not yet fixed all the quality problems.

Citing the two documents, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen called on Thursday for a criminal investigation of New Jersey-based Schering-Plough, questioning if the company knowingly shipped defective medications.

The complaint comes two weeks after Schering-Plough quietly signaled serious trouble with the FDA by telling Wall Street investors the agency had indefinitely held up approval of the company's long-touted new drug Clarinex, the successor to the blockbuster allergy drug Claritin. The problem: FDA has shut down production lines in New Jersey and Puerto Rico factories because of repeated quality violations, a move that affects Clarinex and some drugs already on the market.

The confidential auditors report, provided to Schering-Plough last April and recently obtained by Public Citizen, cited company employees complaining that "for many years they have been under significant pressure" from management to increase production "sometimes at the expense of high quality work."

Public Citizen wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson on Thursday urging that he order FDA to investigate "the possibility of criminal behavior on the part of those Schering-Plough officials who may have knowingly shipped defective pharmaceutical products for use in unsuspecting patients."

Thompson had not yet received the letter and had no immediate comment. But FDA spokesman Lawrence Bachorik said the agency "takes these sorts of allegations seriously."

Schering-Plough spokesman Robert Consalvo declined to address the call for an investigation, but said the company is working diligently to resolve FDA's quality complaints. In 1999, it began buying $50 million in new equipment and by year's end will have increased its quality-control employees by 30 percent, he said.

Schering-Plough hired a Maryland-based auditor to visit its Kenilworth, N.J., factory between February and April 2000. FDA already had begun citing violations at the factory; the first recall of asthma inhalers made there began in late 1999 and a second recall of more than 58 million inhalers began that March while auditors were on site.

Schering had begun some quality improvements, the auditors said. But, it warned that the company was "at serious risk of a significant FDA regulatory action" because of continuing and serious deficiencies.

The problems ranged from failure to routinely make sure asthma inhalers worked to factory sewage leaks.

A copy of FDA's Jan. 19 inspection report says the company had continued to violate federal quality manufacturing rules for a number of medicines, from albuterol to Claritin.

"Schering-Plough is confident that all prescription and over-the- counter products currently in the marketplace are safe and effective," Consalvo responded.

-- Andre Weltman (aweltman@state.pa.us), March 02, 2001.

Thanks everyone I think I get the idea!


-- Edward Elliott (eell@webtv.net), March 02, 2001.

A little background on Aventis. The merger history (most recent)involved Hoechst Marion Rousell. That was a merger of Hoechst (German Pharma. both human and animal) and Celanese (US maker of dyes and fabric, chemicals etc.) and the Kansas City based Marion (pharma) and the French company Rousell which produced RU 486 (the morning after pill). All this activity in the last 3-4 years.


-- poconojo (jberman478@aol.com), March 02, 2001.

Thread drift? Unheard of, here! (Just wait 'til you see where I'm going to go with this one.:)

Andre, I know what you're saying--without the meds and vaccines we'd see far more death, etc. And certainly a manufacturer of medications would be criminal to prevent the research into the causes of illnesses or, horrors, to cause the actual spread of an illness.

But it does arouse suspicions when the parent company of one company that produces pesticides and also genetically engineers corn is also the parent company of another one that manufactures synthetic "cures."

Now for another drift: one of the things that has been worrying me about the BSE outbreak in Europe is that apparently animal products are used in the making of both cosmetics and vaccines. The consumer has no way of knowing where the ingredients come from.

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), March 02, 2001.

Hey, got to put my 2 cents in somewhere.

Business: Aventis reports big rise in profits

The Associated Press

PARIS (March 2, 2001 2:41 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com) - Aventis SA posted a 63 percent increase in profit before onetime items for 2000, citing a 9.1 percent revenue increase led by strong drug sales and merger-related savings.

The Franco-German life sciences group which makes Allegra for allergies and the cancer drug Taxotere said Friday it earned 1.13 billion euros ($1.05 billion) before nonrecurring charges in 2000 versus earnings of 691 million euros a year earlier.

Including charges related to the formation of Aventis, the company lost 147 million euros versus a loss of 1.37 billion euros in 1999.

The Strasbourg, France-based group's revenue rose to 22.3 billion euros ($20.7 billion) from 20.45 billion euros a year ago.

Some analysts said the company's profits were driven chiefly by cost savings from the group's formation in December 1999 through a merger of France's Rhone-Poulenc and Germany's Hoechst, but chief financial officer Patrick Langlois rejected those claims.

"Our story is not just a synergy story, it's a growth story," he said. "We realize the need to demonstrate that growth is going to be there for the long term."

Its pharmaceutical division Aventis Pharma posted a 16 percent jump in revenue last year to 16.09 billion euros ($15 billion).

Aventis' main drugs - Allegra, Taxotere and blood-thinning agent Lovenox - showed strong growth in 2000.

Both Allegra and Lovenox posted 2000 sales of more than 1 billion euros ($930 million), while Taxotere reached sales of 744 million euros ($692 million). Aventis provided 33.2 percent of pharmaceutical sales in the fast-growing U.S. market, up from 28.6 percent in 1999.

Lantus, a diabetes drug, is planned for a U.S. launch in May, while Ketek, for respiratory tract infection, is planned for launch in the United States and Europe in the second half of the year. The company expects both products to reach peak sales of 1 billion euros.

Meanwhile, revenues in Aventis' agriculture division were flat at 4.61 billion euros ($4.28 billion), the same as in 1999.

The group plans to divest its agrochemical business, which is caught up in a controversy over genetically modified StarLink corn, to focus on pharmaceuticals.

The agrochemicals business has proved troublesome for Aventis after the discovery that tiny amounts of CropScience's StarLink corn - not approved for human consumption in the United States - made its way into taco shells.

Analysts have downplayed the link between the StarLink controversy and the company's decision to divest its agrochemicals unit, citing a trend to abandon the idea of grouping health care and agriculture under one roof - the "life sciences" concept - in favor of focusing on one area.

http://www.nandotimes.com/business/story/0,1032,500459089-500698761- 503793530-0,00.html

-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 02, 2001.

It looks like the bloodhounds are hot on the trail! Good for you.

-- Phil Maley (maley@cnw.com), March 02, 2001.

Fair use for educational/research purposes only

March 2, 2001

New Worries of Planting Altered Corn By ELIZABETH BECKER ASHINGTON, March 1 The Agriculture Department asked today for an accounting of the amount of seed corn tainted with a genetically engineered variety of corn that caused a nationwide recall of food products last year.

In continuing tests at the request of the department, seed companies are finding fresh traces of StarLink, the genetically modified corn made by Aventis CropScience, in small amounts of seed meant for sale to farmers, government and industry officials said today.

Angela Dansby, spokeswoman for the American Seed Trade Association, said, "Our members have been doing tests for StarLink since last fall and, yes, they have found new traces."

With spring planting approaching, the government and the food industry said they had hoped to prevent farmers from using seed corn contaminated with StarLink, which had been approved for animal feed but had not been approved human consumption because of concerns that it might cause allergic reactions.

The contamination caused a costly disruption in the nation's grain- handling system and forced the recall of more than 300 kinds of corn chips, taco shells and other foods.

After a meeting today of representatives of the seed and food industry and the government agencies overseeing biotechnology for agriculture, Ms. Dansby said the trade association had agreed to canvas its 200 members and find out how many bags of seed were contaminated and the value of that seed.

She said the Agriculture Department wanted the results by Friday.

Kevin Herglotz, the department spokesman, said: "We've urged the seed companies to test and monitor the seed for StarLink. We've urged the farmers to request verification that their seed is not contaminated."

Mr. Herglotz said today's gathering was part of a series of meetings established last year by Dan Glickman, the agriculture secretary, to contain the spread of seed contaminated by StarLink.

Last autumn, the government prodded Aventis into starting a $100 million program to buy as much of the StarLink harvest as possible, and now nearly every major food and agriculture company is testing for Cry9C, the protein produced by StarLink.

In November, Aventis offered to help seed companies test and screen for StarLink contamination, and the companies agreed.

Agricultural officials said today that although it was unclear how the seed became tainted, many suspected cross-pollination. Keeping StarLink segregated field to factory to consumer from corn that is meant for human consumption has proved difficult, officials say.

"There's no structure to keep the StarLink corn separate from other corn," said Charles Hurburgh, a professor of agricultural engineering at Iowa State University. "The source of the contamination is likely to be crosspollination, where a field is pollinated by StarLink corn from faraway fields."

Mr. Hurburgh estimated that less than 5 percent of the corn seed or about one million bags would have to be taken off the market.

To the relief of officials, that seed had yet to be sold to farmers, much less sold to countries with more stringent regulation of genetically modified agricultural products.

Japan, one of the largest markets for American corn, rejected shipments in January after finding traces of the genetically modified corn. Japan imports about 4 million tons of corn for foods intended for humans and 12 million tons of corn for animal feed.

"I do not expect that this will have any impact on our overseas sales," said Val Giddings, vice president of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. "The companies have enormous incentive to test and know it won't be sent overseas."

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 02, 2001.


If anyone calls you a shill, I'll bite them,
wrap them and suck their juices out from
their heads ::::-


StarLink was never approved for human consumption, but much of the crop had been dumped into the same bins with food corn, snarling grain distribution and hurting exports.

. . .

Some Nebraska grain industry officials said the StarLink seed should never have been released without federal approval for human consumption.

. . .

"A lot of the people making these decisions have never planted and raised corn," said Tom Hoegemeyer, who runs his own seed company, Hoegemeyer Hybrids in Hooper.

Federal regulators and Aventis did not seem to understand the bulk nature of farming.

. . .

Although the total price tag for StarLink compensation is unknown, it is sure to be costly.

. . .

In light of all of the problems that followed the StarLink harvest, farmers are grateful they sold their grain early.

"I got rid of it early and got rid of the headache," said Randy Sukstorf, who had about 10,000 bushels of the tainted corn on his farm near Cedar Bluffs because a neighbor was growing the crop. /i> ::::-

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 03, 2001.

Italics off

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), March 03, 2001.

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