WASHINGTON - The three major U.S. federal agencies with responsibility for managing food policy are gearing up to manage the fallout from the presence of StarLink genetically modified corn in the human food chain. The problems associated with StarLink - which has been pulled from the market - have transformed the government's approach to agricultural biotech from a focus on food safety and promoting innovation to one centered on protecting trade and markets.

The government's concern reflects the highly publicized failure to make good on promises that GM crops would be managed, and the inability of GM supporters to provide reasons for Washington to continue to throw unquestioning support behind the technology. Last week Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman said the StarLink issue has attracted attention "at the highest levels of government," while officials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency told BioCentury they need to fundamentally reconsider their oversight of agricultural biotechnology.