MERRICK, N.Y. — Are you under the impression that the class action lawsuit filed as a result of the StarLink corn controversy doesn't apply to you? If so, you could be wrong.

The $110 million settlement applies to all U.S. corn growers who cultivated and harvested non-Starlink corn for grain between 1998 and 2002. Any grower who planted non-StarLink corn, whether it was contaminated with StarLink or not, can be included in the class action lawsuit. The filing deadline for all claims is May 31, 2003.

Approved by Judge James Moran of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, the multi-million dollar settlement is an attempt to compensate members of the class action lawsuit that were affected by lower corn prices attributed to the StarLink controversy.

StarLink corn, a genetically modified corn which contains the Cry9C protein to protect the plant against insects such as the European corn borer, was approved for feed use, but not for human consumption or for export. However, some StarLink-contaminated corn found its way into food products. This contamination, the lawsuit claims, cause concern in other nations about the safety of the U.S. corn supply and resulted in lower exports and, thus, lower prices for U.S. corn.

According to the settlement, all persons or entities that operated farms in the United States from which corn grown for grain that was not grown from StarLink corn seed, and was harvested since 1998, are eligible to be class members.

According to information published by economists with the University of Illinois, corn growers who grew non-Starlink varieties in 2000 could receive between $1 and $2 per acre, for every corn acre planted in 2000, based on total corn acreage that year, and an assumption of the percentage of farmers who will fill out the paperwork required to receive payments under the settlement. Corn producers who planted corn in 1998, 1999 or 2001 are also eligible.

The proposed settlement provides compensation for both property damage and corn loss. "Property damage is intended to compensate class members who can demonstrate actual and verifiable loss on sale, or additional expenses resulting from Cry9C (StarLink) pollination of a class member's non-Cry9C corn, or commingling of a class member's non-Cry9C corn with Cry9C corn," the settlement says.

The corn loss stipulation, however, applies to all class members who file "Corn Loss Proofs of Claim" to provide compensation due to the existence of Cry9C (Starlink corn) in the general U.S. corn supply.

"Corn Loss Proofs of Claim," must be submitted to the claims administrator at the following address: Non-StarLink Farmer Litigation, c/o The Garden City Group, Inc., Claims Administrator, P.O. Box 9000 #6075, Merrick, NY 11566-9000.

By accepting money from the settlement, corn growers give up any future opportunities to file a lawsuit because of StarLink contamination. Developed by Aventis Crop Science USA, which is now known as StarLink Logistics, Inc., StarLink corn was voluntarily withdrawn from the market in October 2000.

For more information go to the settlement Web site at http://www.non-starlinkfarmerssettlement.com or visit the University of Illinois Web site at http://www.farmdoc.uiuc.edu/legal/starlink_related_table.html.

email: Doreen Muzzi.