Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Wednesday, October 17, 2001. Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Miller: Aventis Has Paid $10 Million in Iowa -- & Keeps Responsibility for StarLink Corn

Iowa farmers and elevators have received $10.6 million so far, and Aventis will retain the obligation to pay for losses caused by StarLink corn despite Bayer purchase of Aventis CropScience.

Des Moines. Attorney General Tom Miller said Wednesday that Aventis CropScience, the developer of StarLink genetically modified corn, has paid Iowa farmers and elevators $10.6 million so far in compensation for their losses. StarLink had been approved for use in animal feed but not for humans, and then was found in consumer foods and the grain distribution system.

"Aventis will continue handling and paying claims from farmers and elevators and others, despite purchase of the Aventis CropScience unit by Bayer AG," Miller added. "Aventis is legally bound to retain any StarLink liabilities, and we have received specific assurances that Aventis will do so."

In a news briefing at his office in Des Moines, Miller also described an agreement between States and Aventis on a new claims procedure for farmers who discover StarLink in their inventories after September 1, 2001. (Procedures for elevators have not changed.) He urged farmers to contact StarLink Logistics at once if they discover StarLink corn and it reduces the value of their corn.

Aventis Payments in Iowa

Miller said Aventis has paid Iowa farmers and elevators $10,596,097 as of October 1. The Farm Division of Miller's Office requested the twice-monthly reports by the company. For farmers, the total paid is $6,026,592 to 1,078 producers, with 225 claims pending. A total of 965 elevator claims have been paid for a total of $4,569,505, with 144 claims pending. The totals do not include sums that Aventis may have paid to food-producing companies in Iowa.

Miller said he expects the amount paid to farmers and elevators still to increase significantly. "Many claims were filed running up to a September 1 deadline and will be paid soon," he said. Payment totals grew over $821,000 from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1, Miller noted.

"Aventis has stepped up to the plate throughout this process to compensate farmers and elevators," Miller said. "Their procedures have been crucial to managing the problem of StarLink corn -- getting StarLink corn out of the system, and compensating farmers and elevators for loss in value they suffered because of StarLink corn."

Impact of Bayer Purchasing Aventis CropScience

Bayer AG of Germany announced October 2 that it was buying the Aventis CropScience agrochemical unit from Aventis, raising the issue of who would be responsible for ongoing claims related to StarLink corn. "We've examined purchase agreement documents and we have specific assurances from Aventis that Aventis will retain those obligations," Miller said. "That's good news for Iowa."

Miller provided a letter sent yesterday to him by John Wichtrich of Aventis CropScience. "Aventis will remain responsible for all of the liabilities and obligations related to StarLink, including the obligations arising from the agreements regarding StarLink between Aventis CropScience USA LP and the state Attorneys General," the letter said. Aventis will establish a U.S. subsidiary called StarLink Logistics Inc.

"I can assure you that the management transition from Aventis CropScience to StarLink Logistics Inc. will appear seamless to the Attorneys General and to all growers and elevators that are dealing with StarLink or Cry9C-positive corn," Wichtrich wrote. "Aventis remains fully committed to continuing to fulfill all of the obligations of our Agreements with you."

Claims procedures for farmers that discover StarLink in their inventories after 9-1-01

Miller said Aventis has entered into a new agreement with the State Attorneys General that is especially important for producers who discover StarLink corn as they deliver their 2001-crop corn. "As before, farmers can be paid for any loss in value or added transportation or handling costs caused by StarLink," Miller said.

"The key thing is for producers to contact StarLink Logistics immediately if a load tests positive for Cry9C StarLink protein, so the corn can be directed to a designated non-food-use site. We hope the number of these claims is low, but we need to be prepared," Miller said.

The prior agreement with compensation terms under the "StarLink Enhanced Stewardship Program" (SES) expired on September 1, a deadline established by the USDA in order to encourage producers to move 1999- and 2000-crop corn through the system and avoid commingling as much as possible with the 2001 crop. (Miller noted, however that elevator claims were not affected by the September 1 deadline, only producer claims. Aventis continues to handle elevator claims under existing agreements with the State Attorneys General that are in force until January 2004.)

If a load of a farmer's corn tests positive, the farmer contacts StarLink Logistics and directs the corn to one of many sites designated by the company. Farmers will need to provide StarLink Logistics with various documentation regarding discounts or loss of value because of StarLink, any added transportation or handling costs, and information for StarLink to track down as best as possible the source of the StarLink contamination.

Aventis has agreed that payments generally will be made within 30 days of fully-documented claims. StarLink Logistics will pay interest at the rate of 1.5 percent per month compounded daily on the amount due beyond the first 30 days.

For more information, and for claim and documentation forms, farmers or elevators may contact StarLink Logistics at 866-785-8665. They also may go the StarLink Logistics web site at www.starlinkcorn.com, or to the web site of the Attorney General's Farm Division at www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org (click on "News and Publications.")

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