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Mexican Study Validates
GE Corn Contamination

Mexican investigation validates UC-Berkeley corn study
Kelsey Demmon & Amanda Paul
Daily Californian ( U. California-Berkeley )
2002-08-20

(U-WIRE) BERKELEY, Calif. -- New evidence has emerged
regarding a controversial report by a University of
California-Berkeley assistant professor and graduate student on the
existence of genetically modified corn in Mexico.

Mexico's National Institute of Ecology released a statement last
week confirming the findings of UC-Berkeley assistant professor
Ignacio Chapela and graduate student David Quist.

One of the theories in Chapela and Quist's report stated that
fragments from genetically engineered corn, such as pollen, could
have become airborne and invaded the native corn population in
Mexico.

The institute agreed that genetically altered fragments are able to
travel long distances to contaminate other traditionally grown
crops -- a feat they did not believe possible last year.

The presence of transgenic DNA threatens the native species of
corn in Mexico, both reports stated.

Last year, the Department of Environmental Science, Policy and
Management and the international scientific journal Nature both
published Chapela and Quist's report, which concluded that native
corn growing in Oaxaca, Mexico, contained trace amounts of
genetically modified material.

Amid claims that the study employed flawed methodology, Nature
withdrew support for the article, and professors from the
Department of Plant and Microbial Biology issued a joint
statement expressing their disappointment with the report.

But further research by Mexico's National Institute of Ecology
recredited Chapela and Quist in a statement Aug. 12.

The institute hired two academic institutions, the Center of
Investigations of Advanced Polytechnic and the Center of Ecology
for the University of National Autonomy of Mexico, to investigate
Chapela's findings.

After using several types of methodology, including Chapela and
Quist's, the institute's results maintained the pair's original findings
were accurate.

The institute has not yet published the complete report of the
findings, which some attribute to fear of possible political and
economic backlash. The planting of transgenic corn was prohibited
by the Mexican government in 1998.

"I believe the main problems are rooted in politics and economic
welfare," Chapela said.

Chapela and Quist concluded in their report that the people of
Oaxaca are unknowingly consuming corn that could result in
health complications.

Genetically altered foods contain some health risks for humans,
such as sterility, cancer or death, Chapela said.

But Exequiel Ezcurra, president of the National Institute of
Ecology, said the corn found in Oaxaca is not detrimental to
humans.

The institute is taking steps to protect the locally grown corn. It is
also developing educational groups that can teach local farmers
how transgenic DNA can be transmitted and how they can protect
their crops.

Chapela said he hopes the institute's report will convince his critics
that his work is reliable. He added that after publishing his report,
he faced many personal challenges.

"Having your credibility as a scientist questioned like that on a
regular basis on an international plane is a hurdle for a scientist,"
Chapela said.
--
You don't stop laughing because you grow old.
You grow old because you stop laughing.

Amigo Cantisano
Organic Ag Advisors
Aeolia Organics
Felix Gillet Institute (The FGI)
P.O. Box 942
No. San Juan, CA 95960
530-292-3619 office
530-292-3688 fax

 

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