Payments to Iowa farmers and elevators from Aventis could top $10 million, said Steve Moline, an assistant Iowa attorney general monitoring the payments. Iowa farmers have received an average of $5,528 and elevators an average of $4,616 for StarLink claims.
"Given the discounts in the market that developed for StarLink corn, the payments are right where we expected them to be," Moline said.
Ed Beaman, executive vice president of the Agribusiness Association of Iowa, said he's received calls from grain elevators "who feel they haven't been paid on a timely basis or who feel they haven't been paid enough." "I have called the Aventis people directly and got those cases resolved," he said.
The deadline for farmers to make a claim was Sept. 1, Moline said. More than 400 Iowa claims still await payment from Aventis.
Although the government approved StarLink for use in livestock feed, it was not cleared for human consumption after possible allergic reactions were reported in people who consumed the protein that StarLink produces.
Hundreds of food products were recalled last year after testing showed residues of the StarLink protein in taco shells and other food.
Aventis CropScience leased StarLink technology to seed corn companies for use in their products. Aventis, based in Research Triangle Park, N.C., agreed to pay farmers a premium to keep StarLink corn off the market by feeding it to livestock or sending it to an approved storage site that would channel it to livestock feed.
It also agreed to compensate elevators for losses suffered from StarLink being commingled in corn supplies.
StarLink corn was grown on 135,000 acres in Iowa last year, 40 percent of the U.S. corn acreage planted to StarLink.
As much as 1 billion bushels of Iowa corn were estimated to be contaminated with StarLink after last year's harvest.
Aventis reported to the Iowa attorney general the number of claims and payments it made to Iowa farmers and elevators.
Although Aventis asked that the information be kept secret, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller released the reports to The Des Moines Register after the newspaper requested the information.
Aventis chose not to contest Miller's decision, Moline said.
Iowa is one of 17 states where Aventis CropScience USA agreed to cover the expenses of farmers and elevators.
Miller announced the agreement in January. It gave Iowa and the other states authority to sue Aventis CropScience should it fail to live up to its promises.
In July, the agreement was clarified to require Aventis to pay farmers whose corn was contaminated through cross-pollination from nearby StarLink fields, or who weren't told they had purchased corn that contained StarLink genetics.
Aventis had refused to pay those farmers.
Aventis officials have declined to say how much has been paid nationwide in compensation, but Aventis SA, the French drugmaker that owns Aventis CropScience, took a charge of $90 million in its fourth quarter last year to cover costs from the StarLink recall.
Costs could eventually exceed $200 million, some estimates say.
By the numbers
Payments made by Aventis as of Sept. 4:
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed for research and educational purposes only. **
Last Updated on 9/20/01