November 28, 2001 – Halt this reckless experiment now says Friends of the Earth

Friends of the Earth is calling for an immediate global moratorium on the growing of GM crops [1] after new research revealed that wild maize in Mexico has been contaminated with GMOs. The results are revealed today in the science journal Nature.

Researchers in Mexico found that wild maize in a remote area of Mexico was contaminated with genetically modified (GM) material – despite a moratorium on growing GM maize since 1998. The source of the GM contamination is unknown. The remote location of the wild maize strains suggests that cross-pollination may have taken place over considerable distances. Maize originates in Mexico. All commercial varieties were originally bred from this wild stock.

The revelation raises further concerns about pollution by GM crops of plants which have wild relatives, such as oilseed rape and beet which are indigenous to Europe. Other centres of biodiversity that could be contaminated with GM materials are the Andes (potatoes), China (soya beans) and Thailand (rice).

Gill Lacroix, Biotechnology Coordinator at Friends of the Earth Europe, said: “These findings are deeply disturbing and highlight the huge gamble the biotech industry is taking with nature. The long-term implications of allowing GM crops to contaminate wild plants are unknown and will be almost impossible to reverse. This is why Governments around the world should halt the dangerous experiment of growing GM crops outside.”

Contact: Gill Lacroix: + 32 (0)2 542 01 82
mob: + 32 (0)476 244 161

Notes: [1] The Biosafety Protocol (or Cartegena Protocol) was signed in Montreal in 1999 and allows states to control the import of GMOs if their environment is under threat. However, so far only 6 countries have ratified the protocol.