Mexican Corn Contaminated by Genetically Modified Materials, Government Invites More

  An article in the in the February edition of Molecular Ecology confirmed a controversial 2001 study in the journal Nature that genetically modified material has contaminated native corn in Southern Mexico.

The Mexican government’s response to this was an announcement in March that it would change its laws to allow planting of genetically modified corn for experimental reasons. The new law overturns a nation-wide moratorium on the planting of any genetically modified varieties of the crop.

Latin America Press reported that there are currently 25 requests to plant experimental transgenic corn in the country. Corn is "the country´s most important crop and the centerpiece of the Mexican diet…where there are some 200 native varieties of the staple crop."

Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the National Autonomous University in Mexico City, author of the February article, said "The escaped transgenes are common in a few fields and absent in others so gene-monitoring efforts must sample as broadly as possible. What’s more, not every detection method or laboratory identified every sample containing transgenes.”

Mexico’s new law "does not set a limit on how much corm can be grown or where it can be grown."

The AP reported that Mexico’s Agriculture Secretary Alberto Cardenas said "the country could be growing genetically modified corn by 2012…[claiming] GM varieties could boost production by 30 percent."