Members of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) used to be given badges to wear proclaiming "BIOTECHNOLOGY IS THE FUTURE OF AGRICULTURE". USDA and successive US administrations are totally responsible for the permissive regulation and the culture of laxity that has encouraged the kind of contamination of the food supply that this incident reflects. Even when they found out from Syngenta that their rogue corn had been going into the global food supply for four years they kept silent about it. Other countries only know about it via an article that appeared on Nature's website. And they don't think there's a problem?

EU should not punish US in biotech corn case - USDA
12 Apr 2005

WASHINGTON, (Reuters) - The United States does not believe the European Union would be justified in imposing sanctions over U.S. exports of an unapproved variety of biotech corn (maize) seeds, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said on Monday.

"There's just no threat to human health or plant health or animal health. Sanctions really would not be justified," Johanns told reporters.

The Agriculture Department on Friday fined Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta $375,000 for the movement of unapproved genetically modified corn. Syngenta last month announced that some of its corn seeds were mistakenly contaminated over a four-year period with Bt10, an insect-resistant strain that was not approved for U.S. distribution.

Approximately 1,000 tonnes of Bt10 corn entered the EU as food and animal feed and 10 kg of seed were planted in France and Spain in research field trials. The EU Executive Commission on Friday considered stopping imports of genetically modified corn gluten feed from the United States.

Additional U.S. fines could be announced soon.

Johanns said there was no health impact related to the distribution of the Syngenta product. But the EU has voiced concern that it contains a gene making it resistant to an important group of antibiotics.

Johanns said the EU had not informed him that sanctions is "where they're (the EU) headed" in this case.

EU vets are scheduled to meet on Tuesday to review an EU report on risks associated with Bt10 corn.