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The BBC's Tom Carver in Washington
"The American government has deemed the corn fit for animal consumption only"
 real 56k

Monday, 25 September, 2000, 05:34 GMT 06:34 UK
'GM tacos' recalled
Taco Bell chain of restaurants
The popular Taco Bell chain has begun replacing its supplies
By Tom Carver in Washington

A food scare in the United States has led to millions of taco shells - one of the country's favourite fast foods - being withdrawn from supermarkets and restaurants.

It follows the discovery that the tacos contained genetically-modified corn that had not been approved for human consumption.

The discovery was made by an environmental lobby group called Genetically-engineered Food Alert, which tested some of the shells in a Washington suburb.

They were found to contain traces of a corn called StarLink, which is genetically embedded with a pesticide.

Allergies

The government has deemed the corn fit for animal consumption only, out of concerns that the pesticide could cause allergies in humans.

Without waiting for a government order, Kraft Foods ordered all shells to be withdrawn from stores.

The popular Taco Bell chain of restaurants, which gets its shells from the same corn-grower in Mexico as Kraft Foods, has also begun replacing its supplies.

A spokesman for Kraft complained that farmers should not be allowed to grow bio-tech crops which have not been approved for human consumption.

Up to now, criticism of these crops has been more muted in the US than in Europe, but taco shells are popular and this incident will make many people here much more aware of the issue.

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See also:

22 Sep 00 | Sci/Tech
US agency endorses GM crops
03 Jun 00 | South Asia
US 'dumped' GM food in Orissa
18 May 00 | Europe
Euro alert over GM seed
11 Apr 00 | Sci/Tech
Giant GM salmon on the way
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