Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genetically engineered corn poses no immediate threat to Mexican crops

08.11.2004


Genetically modified (GM) corn won’t threaten native corn species in Mexico, according to a new report issued by the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA).

In a country whose culture and identity revolve heavily around corn, or maize – the crop was first developed here thousands of years ago – the thought of imported GM varieties contaminating indigenous plants frightens many citizens, said Allison Snow, a co-author of the report and a professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at Ohio State University. Because of that fear, Mexico placed a moratorium on planting GM corn in 1998.

However, an estimated 30 percent of the corn that Mexico imports from the United States may be genetically modified, Snow said. The United States does not separate GM corn from non-GM corn, making it impossible for Mexican farmers to know if the grain they receive is genetically engineered or not. "Reliable unpublished data suggest that it is extremely likely that some GM corn is already growing in Mexico, whether it was intentional or not," said Snow, who is also an expert on plant-to-plant transmission of GM genes.



"What no one knows, however, is how common this has become," she continued. "Though GM seeds imported as grain from the United States would probably result in poor yields, farmers may try to plant these seeds in times of need, and the seeds could also be considered a new source of genetic variation for plant breeding practices."

Snow was part of the Maize Advisory Group, a 16-member group established by the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC). The CEC oversees the environmental provisions of NAFTA. Her colleagues included experts from Mexico, Canada, the United States and England. The advisory group two years studying the potential effects of transgenic – or GM – corn in Mexico.

Concerns over gene flow from transgenic corn to native Mexican varieties prompted the report, released today, called "Maize and biodiversity: Effects of transgenic maize in Mexico." "Even though many kinds of transgenic corn have been approved in the United States, where it’s a part of nearly everyone’s diet, the effects of GM corn in Mexico have yet to be evaluated and determined," Snow said. "But transgenic maize from the United States can easily enter Mexico through the massive amounts of GM grain the country imports from the United States."

While the group concluded that genetically engineered corn currently poses no threat to Mexico’s native corn varieties, the advisory group cautions that Mexico remain vigilant when importing and cultivating corn from the United States. The group outlines several recommendations concerning the handling of transgenic corn, including:

  • To avoid undermining its current moratorium, Mexico should label all corn imported from the United States as possibly containing GM seed, or grind the corn when it’s imported. Grinding would prevent the imported seeds from being planted.
  • Conducting more research to learn which transgenes have been introduced in the local varieties of Mexican corn and how common they are.
  • Determining to what degree the genes, including the transgenes, of modern corn plants have been introduced into traditional Mexican crops. Also, evaluate and develop ways to eliminate transgenes from native corn, if Mexico desires to do so.
  • Requiring regulatory agencies in the United States, Canada and Mexico to devise methods to detect and monitor the spread of specific transgenes, as well as the products of those transgenes.
  • Conducting more studies to determine how transgene accumulation through gene flow affects the fitness and yield of the plants receiving these transgenes.
  • Educating Mexican citizens about possible benefits and risks of GM corn.
  • Encouraging better international coordination of regulatory policies, so GM crops that are released in our country are also evaluated for safety in other countries that import viable GM seeds.

Allison Snow | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.osu.edu

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht O2 stable hydrogenases for applications
23.07.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Chemische Energiekonversion

nachricht Scientists uncover the role of a protein in production & survival of myelin-forming cells
19.07.2018 | Advanced Science Research Center, GC/CUNY

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Future electronic components to be printed like newspapers

A new manufacturing technique uses a process similar to newspaper printing to form smoother and more flexible metals for making ultrafast electronic devices.

The low-cost process, developed by Purdue University researchers, combines tools already used in industry for manufacturing metals on a large scale, but uses...

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Detecting damage in non-magnetic steel with the help of magnetism

23.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Researchers move closer to completely optical artificial neural network

23.07.2018 | Information Technology

Enabling technology in cell-based therapies: Scale-up, scale-out or program in-place

23.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>