U.S. regulatory authorities permitted the commercial sale of Starlink seed, with the stipulation that crops produced must not be used for human consumption. This restriction was based on the possibility that a handful of people might develop an allergic reaction to a protein contained in the grain.
Starlink corn was subsequently found in food for people, with an episode involving taco shells being particularly well publicized. This led to a public relations disaster for Aventis and the biotechnology industry as a whole. Sales of Starlink seed were discontinued.
The southern portion of the U.S. corn belt planted the greatest amount of Starlink corn. It is this portion of the U.S. where corn borer damage creates the greatest economic loss to farmers.
There have never been any adequately controlled studies to determine whether Starlink actually poses any greater risk of allergic reaction than ordinary varieties of corn.