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GM Corn DNA May Be Contaminating Wild Crops

The journal ?Nature? reports that DNA from genetically modified corn has been found in wild corn growing on remote mountains in Mexico, indicating that GM crops are threatening the diversity of native plants.

The wild corn was growing around 62 miles from the nearest industrially farmed crops. Mexico has not allowed GM corn to be planted since 1998 but allows the import of GM crops for consumption.

Ignacio Chapela and David Quist of the University of California in Berkeley compared wild corn from the Sierra Norte de Oaxaca mountains in Mexico with GM varieties from the Monsanto company and with samples of other corn known to be uncontaminated. They found that some of the wild samples were contaminated with telltale sections of DNA from GM crops.

?This is very serious because the regions where our samples were taken are known for their diverse varieties of native corn, which is something that absolutely needs to be protected,? says Chapela.

?Originally I was very surprised and concerned about the danger of false positives. I was very alarmed and hoping it wasn?t true,? says Quist. ?It was initially hard to believe that corn in such a remote region would have tested positive.?

It is not clear how the DNA from the GM crops got into the wild plants, but David Quist has a theory. ?It?s more likely that the contamination came from food aid brought in to these regions. A lot of it comes from the United States and a lot of it is [genetically modified],? he says. ?Once the DNA is in the population, you can?t just go and fish it out.?

?Today?s report?shows evidence of GM contamination of wild maize in Mexico, the origin of all maize varieties, posing a potential threat to vital diversity essential for future global food security,? says Clare Devereux, coordinator of the Five Year Freeze campaign, which wants to impose a 5 year ban on the planting, import and patenting of GM crops in the U.K. ?Here in the U.K. the issue of genetic pollution not only threatens biodiversity, but also the livelihoods of non-GM and organic farmers, and the right of consumers to choose GM-free food.?

?It?s better to acknowledge that a minimum of cross-pollination cannot be avoided and not to panic: after all, nowhere in the world has a GM product been found to be unhealthy and no adverse environmental effect has ever been substantiated,? says Guy Poppy of CropGen, an association backed by the biotech industry. ?Let?s not forget that the benefit from GM is already being felt around the world.?

To learn more about this, read ?Genetically Engineered Food? by Ronnie Cummins and Ben Lilliston,click here.

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