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US Govt to buy back GE Starlink corn

US Govt to buy back GE Starlink corn

Press Release


WASHINGTON, March 7, 2001 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture, through its Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), today announced it will immediately offer to purchase hybrid corn seed containing the protein Cry9C from small corn seed companies.

This program, estimated to cost between $15 and $20 million, is another step taken by the federal government in a coordinated effort with producers, agribusiness, and the food industry to contain the movement of corn seed with the protein Cry9C to ensure it is not planted this spring.

USDA will purchase the corn seed to ensure that companies not affiliated with Aventis, or licensed to sell the StarLink seed, but whose seed inadvertently contained the Cry9C protein, are not adversely affected. This offer does not extend to those companies licensed by Aventis, the registrant of StarLink to sell hybrid seed corn containing this protein.

Last week some seed companies reported finding isolated occurrences of extremely low levels of Cry9C in seed originally intended for sale this year. Based on aggregate information voluntarily provided by the American Seed Trade Association (ASTA), of those companies reporting, it is estimated that less than one percent of corn seeds for 2001 planting, may contain Cry9C protein.

Companies involved have recovered and taken control of all lots of hybrid corn seed found to have this protein. Seed companies routinely test their products for impurities and many took steps to detect Cry9C before USDA recommended testing procedures on December 29, 2000.

Major seed companies have informed USDA of their intent to continue following recommended testing procedures designed to detect Cry9C, and USDA will monitor this activity. In the event Cry9C is found, these companies will not sell the corn seed for planting and not submit requests for payment to USDA.

USDA will inform farmers of these actions through various information channels, and will encourage farmers to ask for verification that their seed has been tested before buying it.

Because of the relatively small amount of seed involved, this action will not affect the price or the availability of corn seed this year.

Details of the purchase offer will be sent directly to seed corn companies this week including actions that the companies will need to take to receive payment from CCC.

(end text)

Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site:


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