Washington, D.C. - Some corn seed produced by Dow AgroSciences and grown in Iowa has been contaminated with small amounts of an unapproved biotech variety since 2006, the company and government officials disclosed Friday.
Federal officials said that there was no risk to humans or livestock from the grain and that it won't be recalled. However, Dow has recalled the contaminated seed that was sold for the 2008 crop.
Most of the contaminated corn was planted in Iowa and most of the recalled seed had been distributed in the state, according to the company.
It is the latest in a series of incidents in which unapproved biotech varieties of corn and rice have made their way into seed or grain supplies. The first incident occurred in 2000 when a genetically modified corn variety known as StarLink was found in food products despite not having been approved for human consumption.
Greg Jaffe of the Center for Science in the Public Interest said the Dow mixup shows that the biotech industry isn't policing itself adequately.
The contamination occurred when pollen from the unapproved biotech corn stalks landed on a patch of approved stalks, said Garry Hamlin, a spokesman for Dow. Both types of plants were growing in the same research plot.
Dow discovered the contaminated seed while doing some testing last month and notified the government Jan. 25, Hamlin said.
The contaminated seed was sold by Dow affiliate Mycogen Seeds under the labels Herculex RW and Herculex XTRA. The seed is genetically engineered to make the plants toxic to insect pests.
The Environmental Protection Agency said the contaminated grain posed no safety risk because the proteins produced by the unapproved Dow variety, known as Event 32, were identical to the proteins in an approved variety, known as Event 22.