Chapter

Contamination

C. Neal Stewart

in Genetically Modified Planet

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780195157451
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199790388 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195157451.003.0005
 Contamination

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In 2001, a group of researchers at the University of California-Berkeley published a report claiming that transgenes had moved from commercial corn to landrace corn in Oaxaca, Mexico. Transgenic corn had never been planted — at least legally — in Mexico, and so the researchers thought that it was an important scientific result with political implications. Mexican landrace corn had been propagated by indigenous farmers for centuries, and transgenes could be disruptive to the plant and the culture. The finding that transgenes were in landrace corn and parts of transgenes were hopping around the genome was hotly contested because of the flawed methodology used in the original study. Furthermore, the findings were never confirmed by any other researchers. In an unprecedented move, the journal editor announced that the paper should have never been published in the first place. This is one example of exaggerated claims that have encouraged the unnecessary controversy in agricultural biotechnology.

Keywords: controversy; flawed methodology; gene flow; landrace corn; Mexico; Oaxaca

Chapter.  4824 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Biotechnology

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