Panel to Look for Banned Corn
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
and warranted additional investigation.
The results of the inquiry, in the southern state of
come in nine to 10 months, he said. The commission is
an environmental body set up under Nafta,
which joins the United States,
Commission scientists from the three countries are to begin the investigation
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.