Mexican trial of GM maize stirs debate
[MEXICO CITY] Mexico has authorised a field trial of genetically modified (GM) maize that could lead to commercialisation of the crop, sparking debate about the effects on the country's unique maize biodiversity.
Although Mexico already commercially grows some GM crops, such as cotton, GM maize is controversial because the country is home to thousands of the world's maize varieties that originated there.
The multinational corporation Monsanto will test a variety of maize resistant to the herbicide glyphosate on less than a hectare of land in north Mexico before it can commercialise the GM crop. Unlike experimental trials, such pilot projects do not require containment measures to prevent the spread of the GM crop.
Mexico's agriculture ministry said the project, approved last month (8 March), will occur "under the strictest biosecurity measures to guarantee the prevention of involuntary dispersion of the GM maize's pollen".
But Elena Álvarez-Buylla, head of the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS), said: "This opens up the door to contamination of native species in the most important centre of origin [of maize] in the entire world."
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