WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, called on the White House and other executive branch departments and agencies to “do all that they can” to make sure farmers, grain elevators and merchants, the food industry and other “potentially affected parties” are compensated for any economic losses from StarLink corn.
Harkin wrote to the White House, Attorney General Janet Reno, Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Carol Browner and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Jane Henney.
“Farmers and other who are on the receiving end of the StarLink fiasco should not be left holding the bag for losses they did not cause,” he said.
Instead, federal departments and agencies “that may have some enforcement or regulatory role (should) do all they can to ensure the integrity of the biotechnology regulatory process, rebuild confidence in the safety of the food supply and U.S. agricultural exports and provide proper compensation for StarLink-related losses.”
He said the problems and consequences caused by StarLink “are far from over” considering related impacts on corn exports and market prices and the discovery of the StarLink protein in a variety of corn “that supposedly had no connection to the StarLink varieties.”
He also wants enforcement and regulatory agencies involved and to “guard against any actions that might nullify or compromise the ability of farmers, grain elevators or other damaged by StarLink-related problems to obtain compensation.”
Harkin, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said he was concerned particularly whether a proposed sale or spin-off of Aventis Crop Science by Aventis SA “might impair full compensation for StarLink-related losses.”
He added, “As someone who sees great potential for biotechnology … I am very concerned that careful handling of the StarLink situation, and learning the lessons StarLink teaches, is absolutely crucial to the future of agricultural biotechnology.”