Washington Pledging to do a thorough review before allowing a variety of gene-altered corn in food, the Environmental Protection Agency announced plans Monday for a 30-day public comment period and formal consultations with scientists.
Discovery of the corn in the food supply forced a nationwide recall of taco shells.
Aventis CropScience, which developed the corn, wants the EPA to grant a temporary food-use permit for the corn and submitted data last week that the company said showed the grain posed no hazard to consumers.
"The agency will conduct a thorough scientific analysis of this new information and will follow a rigorous process of scientific and public review to evaluate the allergenic potential of StarLink corn," said Steve Johnson, a deputy assistant administrator of the EPA.
The public comment period will start today. The EPA plans to have a meeting with scientists, which will be open to the public, during the week of Nov. 27-Dec. 1.
Aventis wants the EPA to grant temporary food-use approval to the corn to avoid further recalls and shutdowns of food processors.
The corn was only allowed for animal feed or industrial purposes because of unresolved questions about its potential to cause allergic reactions in humans.
The government has been unable to trace about 1.5 percent or 1.2 million bushels of this year's crop. The rest has gone to approved uses or is being held in storage.
"The longer that there is no decision, the more confused consumers are likely to become. We think consumers deserve to have action as soon as possible," said Gene Grabowski, a spokesman for the Grocery Manufacturers of America.