The StarLink fiasco has taken another twist.

Two biotech companies have agreed to pay a joint total of US$110m to put an end to a class-action lawsuit filed by corn farmers who claim they took an indirect financial hit when unapproved GM corn found its way into tacos and corn chips. StarLink Logistics, a 100% subsidiary of Aventis, the maker of StarLink, and Avanta USA, which owns the StarLink distributor Garst Seed, will hope to see a rapid conclusion to the case.

Back in 2000, StarLink corn, which was approved for animal feed but not for human consumption, for fear that it could cause allergic reactions, ended up in a number of food products, sparking a high-profile nationwide recall.

Last year the two companies and four food manufacturers agreed to pay $9m to consumers who claimed they had indeed suffered allergic reactions to products containing the corn. Now corn farmers also stand to gain compensation. While they did not grow the corn, they claim the entire corn sector suffered as a result of consumer mistrust following the incident.

Further court review is required before any money is paid out, but StarLink Logistics president John Wichtrich was quoted by Dow Jones as saying: "This agreement represents a significant advance in our ongoing efforts to bring [the] StarLink matter to a conclusion."