Experimental Cotton from West Texas Mixed into Animal Feed

WASHINGTON (AP) - An unauthorized strain of genetically modified cotton was accidentally mixed in with other harvested cotton in West Texas last month. But Food and Drug Administration officials today said they do not believe the incident poses safety concerns.

The FDA says the cotton was grown outside of Lamesa. About one-fourth of a ton of experimental cotton seed -- engineered to contain a protein that produces a pesticide -- was combined with about 60 tons of commercial cotton growing nearby.

The mixture was stored along with 20,000 tons of commercial cotton seed in a warehouse. Nearly half the crop was processed into cottonseed oil and cotton meal for animal feed before officials at Monsanto realized the mistake.

Monsanto notified the government Nov. 10. The FDA says most of the contaminated crop that was processed into animal feed has already been consumed by cattle in feed lots.

Monsanto spokesman Lee Quarles says the protein has been determined to pose no threat to humans and approved for use in corn -- but not yet in cotton.