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Biotech Crop Testing in Hawai'i Yields Satisfactory Results

Release Date: 4/23/2003
Contact Information: Contact: Dean Higuchi, (808) 541-2711

EPA Fines Pioneer $72,000 for Missed Deadline

SAN FRANCISCO --The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. recently completed all required testing of its bio-tech corn grown in Kauai, Hawai'i and has satisfied the agency's requirements.

A federal order issued in December required Pioneer to test its seed corn and report its findings to the EPA to assure that an experimental gene grown in corn on Kauai was not transferred to adjacent Pioneer seed corn fields. The EPA fined the company $72,000 last month when Pioneer failed to notify the agency of test results indicating the presence of the experimental gene in seeds grown near the experimental plants, and for failing to submit maps identifying the location of such seeds.

"When we negotiate an agreement with a company, we expect full compliance" said Wayne Nastri, Regional Administrator for the EPA's Pacific Southwest Region. "Pioneer's failure to report its test data and provide other information as required was a direct violation of our agreement."

As required by the EPA, to check the initial results, Pioneer subsequently retested using more sensitive DNA tests, determining that most of the initial positive test results were false, and the remaining 12 positive test results were from a USDA regulated field test. Pioneer destroyed the plants that tested positive before they pollinated, and the EPA is confident that corn intended for human consumption was not affected. EPA has also shared the test result information with USDA. USDA is reviewing the information and investigating the incident. USDA will take appropriate action based on the results of their investigation.

The December order resolved Pioneer's alleged failure to comply with two of the conditions of an experimental use permit for growing genetically modified corn seed and required the company to pay a penalty of $9,900.

Pioneer's experimental use permit was issued by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act to enable the company to field test a type of genetically modified corn known as Plant-Incorporated Protectants to generate the data necessary to support its licensing for commercialization.
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