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Genetically Engineered Corn Article

Panel to Look for Banned Corn

By REUTERS

MEXICO CITY, June 20 (Reuters) - An environmental commission set up  under the North American Free Trade Agreement said today that it would investigate reports of transgenic corn growing in southern Mexico.

The commission is responding to concerns that imported transgenic corn has contaminated native crops. Scott Vaughan, head of the economy and trade division of the panel, the Commission for Environmental  Cooperation, said genetically modified corn was a "huge issue" for  Mexico and warranted additional investigation.

The results of the inquiry, in the southern state of Oaxaca, could  come in nine to 10 months, he said. The commission is an environmental  body set up under Nafta, which joins the United States, Mexico and  Canada. Commission scientists from the three countries are to begin the investigation in mid-July.

The cultivation of transgenic corn was banned in Mexico in 1998 amid  fears that it would contaminate the hundreds of wild creole varieties growing in Mexico, believed by many to be the birthplace of corn.

But scientists from the University of California at Berkeley published studies last year saying they had found transgenic corn, also known as genetically modified corn, in the mountains of Oaxaca.

The results from Berkeley have been challenged since then, though the scientists and local groups maintain that the mutated corn is still  spreading in the Oaxaca Sierra. Genetically modified crops are plants  spliced with foreign genes to help them resist drought and pests. No  health risks have proved to be linked to the consumption of transgenic corn.

 
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