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Starlink Woes Worsen at Home and Abroad

(14 November - Cropchoice News) -- Dan Glickman recently called Starlink a "blip" on American corn exports; but worldwide rejection of the GMO corn suggests it could turn into much more. Starlink's export impact may not only hit grain companies and Starlink growers; but, sadly, all corn growers, including those who took great care to segregate or plant non-GMO. US corn exports are off, and indications are that key customers are hoping that other countries can come up with corn to fill the gap.

The reasons are a triple whammy of negative Starlink news so far this week. First, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it has questions about Aventis' request for temporary approval for human consumption of Starlink. EPA is under intense pressure from all sides and can't just look the other way on Starlink for fear of undermining consumer confidence in food safety. While EPA's position isn't final, the Agency is unlikely to approve Starlink anytime soon.

And as long as Starlink is unapproved - here and abroad - it will put a damper on corn sales, as indicated by the news from Asia. Japan and Korea, our biggest corn customers, are spooked by Starlink and have decided to step up their search for alternative corn sources. South Korea, America's #2 corn buyer, yesterday tendered for a fast shipment of 30,000 tons of corn. But the Koreans specified that they would not accept US corn. According to reports, Korea wants the immediate shipment of corn - from anywhere but the US - to replace loads of American corn, already arrived, which are commingled with Starlink.

Korea's neighbors in Japan are also looking to non-US sources and yesterday bought 200,000 tons of Chinese corn. Demand is so high that Chinese traders are reportedly buying back earlier sales to other countries and still making money on the mark-up to fill Japanese demand for non-Starlink corn. According to the Japanese Agriculture Ministry, two thirds of 15 samples of US feed corn in Japan recently tested positive for Starlink - a frightening prospect for GMO-wary Japanese consumers, especially considering Starlink isn't even approved for feed in the country.

While corn prices recently rose when the US when Japan and the US briefly appeared to have struck a deal on Starlink contamination, export inspections were off last week and overall exports are down by over 6% on the year.

SOURCE: Reuters, USDA, Kyodo News Service, Doane's