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MEXICO
GM corn gets green light
3/12/2009
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Agriculture secretary says genetically-modified varieties of this ubiquitous crop may be used in experiments.

Mexico has revised its biosafety law to reverse a nationwide ban on genetically-modified corn, the country´s most important crop and the centerpiece of the Mexican diet, and allow the varieties to be used in experiments.

In a press conference, Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira Quesada, said that the government would fight any illicit planting of genetically-modified corn, of which Mexico is the birthplace.

Elvira Quesada added that the changes to Biosafety and Genetically-Modified Organisms would not prohibit individual states from instating bans on transgenic corn, and under those circumstances, experiments would not be an excuse.

Mexico´s agriculture secretary said there are 25 requests to plant experimental transgenic corn in the country.

Genetically-modified corn has been a contentious issue in Mexico, where there are some 200 native varieties of the staple crop.

In February, a study by scientists from the Mexico, the Netherlands and the United States found that genetically-modified corn strains did contaminate native corn varieties in southern Mexico.

The study, led by Elena Alvarez-Buylla of the National Autonomous University in Mexico, backed findings a contentious 2001 study published in the journal Nature that said the genetically-engineered corn had been detected in some of these varieties, sparking a heated debate over the study´s research methods and findings.

On Feb. 25, Mexico City´s government issued a declaration that seeks to protect native corn varieties and promote ecologically-friendly and organic agriculture.

The decision was lauded by Greenpeace Mexico as a sign of commitment to protecting “Mexicans´ most important grain.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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