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Genetically Engineered Corn Article

Panel to Look for Banned Corn


MEXICO CITY, June 20 (Reuters) - An environmental commission set upunder the North American Free Trade Agreement said today that it would investigate reports of transgenic corn growing in southern Mexico.

The commission is responding to concerns that imported transgenic corn has contaminated native crops. Scott Vaughan, head of the economy and trade division of the panel, the Commission for EnvironmentalCooperation, said genetically modified corn was a "huge issue" forMexico and warranted additional investigation.

The results of the inquiry, in the southern state of Oaxaca, couldcome in nine to 10 months, he said. The commission is an environmentalbody set up under Nafta, which joins the United States, Mexico andCanada. Commission scientists from the three countries are to begin the investigation in mid-July.

The cultivation of transgenic corn was banned in Mexico in 1998 amidfears that it would contaminate the hundreds of wild creole varieties growing in Mexico, believed by many to be the birthplace of corn.

But scientists from the University of California at Berkeley published studies last year saying they had found transgenic corn, also known as genetically modified corn, in the mountains of Oaxaca.

The results from Berkeley have been challenged since then, though the scientists and local groups maintain that the mutated corn is stillspreading in the Oaxaca Sierra. Genetically modified crops are plantsspliced with foreign genes to help them resist drought and pests. Nohealth risks have proved to be linked to the consumption of transgenic corn.

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