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Resource ID: #17892
Subject: Biotechnology
Source: Fortune
Affiliation: 
Date: 19-Feb

Description

O'Reilly tells what happened when genetically modified corn not approved for human consumption started finding its way into corn chips, muffin mixes and other foods. In 1995, scientists produced a genetically modified corn plant that poisoned the corn-borer, an inch-long worm that costs farmers $1 billion a year. "Plant Genetics ... had developed another borer-killing gene that it called Starlink. However, the toxin that Starlink produced in the corn plant resembled a substance that triggers violent allergies in some people." Instead of waiting until Starlink's safety in humans could be established, the developers promised to use Starlink seed only to farmers using it for feed corn." The plan didn't work. After three years on the market, Starlink "began showing up in all sorts of places it didn't belong, including tacos, corn chips, breweries and muffin mix." Although it's not a disaster (nobody has been known to get sick from Starlink corn), the fiasco may have long-term consequences beyond the half-billion dollars it will cost Aventis.

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