Industry exploits a new study on transgenic maize in Mexico.
Advocates of industrial biotechnology are using a new scientific study that found no evidence of contamination of maize in an area of a state of Mexico (Oaxaca) – to say that the corn was never threatened if it was ever, pollution miraculously evaporated. A representative of agribusiness in Mexico even stated that "this study paves the way to start commercial planting of genetically modified corn" (1)
According to Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group in Mexico "there is no surprise that the industry use the results of the study to serve their own interests as" proof "that the contamination no longer exists and that the transgenic crops should be extended everywhere, even in places of origin. The indigenous and peasant communities are completely disagreed with that interpretation by the industry to justify their crops contaminants. "
According to the rural communities of Oaxaca, the new findings are not surprising. Baldemar Mendoza, UNOSJO (Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca), who lives in the region referred to the study, said: "We analyzed samples of 3 of the 18 communities mentioned in the report (San Juan Evangelista Analco, Ixtlan and Santa Maria Jaltianguis) and our results were also negative in these three communities."
Further notes that the area sampled by the new study is a small area and that 18 forest communities, which means that its main activity is to cultivate corn. Mendoza also said that "the new study does not speak of any other part of Mexico where contamination was found but some are falsely assuring that 'there is no pollution in the entire state of Oaxaca, or even the whole of southern Mexico."
Four years ago, the Mexican government established the first time that transgenic contamination was in the native corn grown by indigenous farmers in at least two Mexican states: Oaxaca and Puebla. In Mexico it is illegal to plant transgenic maize (both experimental and commercial) since 1999. The contamination probably arose because the farmers may have planted unknowingly small amounts of GM maize mixed with imported maize (which is theoretically important for processing, not for seed). Subsequent studies confirmed evidence of contamination, which has subsequently been widely recognized. Indigenous peoples, peasants, and many civil society organizations have strongly criticized the lack of government action to prevent pollution and to protect native corn.
On Tuesday, August 9st, a new study conducted by Mexican scientists and researchers from USA, reports that found no signs of contamination from genetically modified maize (transgenic) in native maize in Oaxaca. The study, entitled "Absence of detectable transgenes in local Landrace of maize in Oaxaca, Mexico (2003-2004)" was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States. (2) The authors of Mexican scientists (Ezequiel Ezcurra, Jorge Soberón and Sol Ortiz) work (or worked) for the Mexican government, and participated in earlier studies found the transgenic contamination of maize in Mexico. However, previous studies of the government have not been published.
The authors accept that previous studies showed pollution, and warn that the results of this new study "should not be extrapolated to other regions of Mexico without quantitative data, it is unlikely that the current situation to remain static." They conclude that "we expect the prevalence and variety of the maize. The global area of GM maize crop is growing rapidly."
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In October 2003, the network "In Defense of Maize", composed of peasants, indigenous communities and civil society organizations, released its own study of the contamination in nine states of Mexico. Using commercial kits for detection of a transgene, community representatives, 5000 plants of 134 sampled communities. The results showed different degrees of pollution in nine states. (3)
Baldemar Mendoza of UNOSJO explains: "We all know that there is contamination of native maize in Mexico, Oaxaca, and many others. The government knows it has been four years and has done nothing to stop the sources of pollution, in contrast, increased imports of U.S. corn, lifted the moratorium on the planting of transgenic maize in Mexico without even consulting with the victims of pollution, with the Biosecurity Act adopted this year, the companies responsible for pollution, such as Monsanto, are going to continue unpunished. It is ridiculous that the only published study of government sources is to minimize the problem. "
Mendoza continues: "If the new study says that found no contamination is perhaps because the level of pollution has always been very low in that particular area because we also were positive. But it could also be that decontamination work we have done in many communities has served, and that would be good news. In any case, if the efforts to decontaminate have yielded results, it is not because of the 'Education Campaign' from the government, but the effort of communities to recover our seeds, to control from outside, which is just responsible government, to remove extraneous or deformed plants we see and much more. "
Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group emphasizes that "The study does not explain how the contamination could disappear so quickly. I could show that the detection of transgene technology is so unreliable as GM technology, as the behavior of transgenes is often not predictable. "
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- Elizabeth Velasco, "The native maize in Oaxaca, free of genetic pollution: scientists." La Jornada, Mexico, August 10 2005.
- S. Ortiz García, E. Ezcurra, B. Schoel, F. Acevedo, J. Soberón and A.A. Snow: "Absence of detectable transgenes in local Landrace of maize in Oaxaca, Mexico (2003-2004)," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, August 9 2005.
- For more information, see The nine states where contamination was found were: Oaxaca, Puebla, Chihuahua, Morelos, Mexico State, San Luis Potosi, Durango, Tlaxcala and Veracruz
ETC Group News Release
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