| Transgenes found in wild corn
The New Scientist
February 21, 2009
found in wild corn
NOW it's official: genes from genetically modified
corn have escaped
into wild varieties in rural Mexico. A new study resolves
long-running controversy over the spread of GM genes and suggests
detecting such escapes may be tougher than previously thought.
when biologists David Quist and Ignacio Chapela reported
from GM corn in traditional varieties in Oaxaca,
Mexico, they faced a
barrage of criticism over their techniques.
Nature, which had published the
research, eventually disowned their
paper, while a second study by different
researchers failed to back
up their findings.
But now, Elena
Alvarez-Buylla of the National Autonomous University
in Mexico City and her
team have backed Quist and Chapela's claim.
They found transgenes in about 1
per cent of nearly 2000 samples they
took from the region (Molecular
Ecology, vol 18, p 750).
"They are out there, but it's hit-and-miss,"
says Paul Gepts of the
University of California, Davis, a co-author of the
new study. The
escaped transgenes are common in a few fields and absent in
he says, so gene-monitoring efforts must sample as broadly as
What's more, not every detection method - or laboratory -
every sample containing transgenes. Monitors should use many
to avoid false negatives, says Gepts.