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Federal Tests Confirm Contamination....
Starlink Buyup will Payout over $65 Million

(3 October - Cropchoice News) -- The USDA will buy all of this year's harvest of Starlink corn, chanelling it into non-food uses. The cost is thought to reach between $68 and $100 million. Farmers should hear fast, and will need to at this time of year. According to a statement from USDA, Aventis will immediately contact growers with details.

Starlink is estimated to have been planted on 315,000 acres for a harvest of approximately 45 million bushels. Aventis, Starlink's European maker, will reimburse the government for the corn buyup cost. According to USDA, the action "immediately prevents Starlink corn from being used in any food manufacturing. It also guarantees that farmers who planted Starlink corn are reimbursed for this year's crop."

According to Reuters, Ken Hobbie of the U.S. Grains Council was in Japan last week to reassure nervous Japanese corn buyers. Hobbie told the wire service that "From the perspective of international customers, I'm sure they will be much more comfortable that the United States is making sure that Starlink corn is used for appropriate uses in the U.S. and would not find its way into international commerce."

In related news, US government test lab results double-confirmed the contamination of the taco shells, decidedly tipping the scales against Aventis, which has continued to debate claims that Starlink had contaminated Taco Bell taco shells. The first positive tests for contamination, commissioned by activists, were conducted by Iowa-based Genetic ID. These tests were confirmed by another private lab hired by Kraft Foods, leading to the recall. Now, a third test by US government scientists back the activist's original contamination claim.

More contamination victims may follow. Azteca Milling of Plainview, Texas, which milled the corn for the taco shells, also has provided meal for a number of other customers. It's own cornmeal products are on grocery shelves across the US, particularly in areas where corn torillas and other Mexican and Central American foods are popular. Steve Johnson of the EPA, which is working with USDA and the FDA to investigate the contamination, told food industry news sources that "FDA is continuing to do additional analysis both of the taco shells as well as considering what other finished foods would be appropriate to evaluate.

Source: Reuters, just-food.com