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Unnatural Rejection? The academic squabble over Nature magazine's peer-reviewed article is anything but academic

by the ETCGroup.org

(Feb 19, 2002 – CropChoice news) -- More than 144 farmer and other Civil Society Organizations from 40 countries have signed a Joint Statement on the Mexican GM Maize Scandal being released today.

The Statement comes on the eve of an international science policy meeting in Los Banos, Philippines where a global response to the scandal will be discussed. The 144 organizations are demanding that the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) work together with the Convention on Biological Diversity to halt the contamination of the Mesoamerican Centre of Genetic Diversity for maize, one of the world’s most important food crops.

News that genetically modified (GM) maize was turning up in farmers' varieties first appeared in Nature Biotechnology last September and was confirmed in November by a peer-reviewed article in the journal Nature. According to the 170 signatories to today's Joint Statement, the academic and industry attacks on the findings of the Mexican Government and U.S. university researchers has been orchestrated to keep the scandal from embarrassing the biotech industry as it tries to lift the European, Brazilian, and Mexican moratoria (de facto or otherwise) on genetically modified seeds or foods.

If the Philippine meeting of the Genetic Resources Policy Committee of the CGIAR does not act decisively and immediately to protect farmers in Mesoamerica, civil society will take the issue directly to the April meeting of the Biodiversity Convention in the Hague, and the World Food Summit in Rome in June.

The full text of the Joint Statement, and the complete list of 144 signatories can be found at www.etcgroup.org