Genetically Engineered Food Alert, a coalition of health, consumer and environmental groups, today demanded that taco shells marketed using the Taco Bell name be immediately removed from grocery store shelves across the country. In independent testing, a sample of the taco shells was found to contain a form of genetically engineered corn not approved for direct human consumption.Test results obtained by Genetically Engineered Food Alert member group Friends of the Earth from an independent laboratory indicate the presence of Cry9C corn, a variety of genetically engineered corn not approved for direct human consumption, in Taco Bell taco shells sold at grocery stores. Cry9C, a plant pesticide marketed by biotechnology company Aventis under the name of StarLink(TM), is currently deemed fit only for animal consumption by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Aventis has applied for an exemption to this restriction even though the EPA has warned that Aventis' data indicate "that Cry9C exhibits some characteristics of known allergens." Cry9C was found to be heat stabile and resistant to stomach acids and enzymes, indicating that it could be a potential allergen. Possible health effects of this category of allergen include nausea and anaphylactic shock, but are not currently known due to a lack of adequate testing by government and industry."According to the tests, Taco Bell and Philip Morris have used a genetically engineered ingredient that could put the health of their customers at risk," said Larry Bohlen, Health and Environment Programs Director at Friends of the Earth. The taco shells tested were distributed by Kraft, a subsidiary of Philip Morris, under the name Taco Bell. "Consumers need to know whether this is just the tip of the iceberg."Friends of the Earth plans to submit taco shells from Taco Bell restaurants for testing.