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[SANET-MG] Initial statement by Ignacio Chapela and David Quist om mexico corn
Response to PNAS article failing to detect transgenes in maize from
Given the large number of requests for comment from us regarding the
article recently appeared in PNAS (below), we would like to make the
following statements, preliminary to a deeper commentary.
Initial statement by Ignacio Chapela and David Quist
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
10 August, 2005
Ortiz-García, S., Ezcurra, E., Schoel, B., Acevedo, F., Soberón, J. and
Snow, A.A. 2005. Absence of Detectable Transgenes in local landraces of
maize in Oaxaca, Mexico (2003-2004). Proceedings of the National Academy
We were surprised by the results and statements presented in this paper.
We had no prior knowledge of the contents or conclusions of the paper
until it was being discussed in the media, a few days ago. On first
approach, it seems to us highly suspect that transgenic DNA may have
been widespread in local landraces of maize in Mexico in 2000-2001, as
demonstrated in at least 3 separate studies, would suddenly become
absent within a couple of years.
Part of our surprise stemmed also from our knowledge that three of the
authors in this paper have made many categorical public representations
prior to this paper which lie in diametrical contradiction to the
negative results paper presented in PNAS. Although their statements were
never published in a peer-reviewed journal, we must presume that those
contradictory categorical statements were based on real samples and
analyses. We do not know whether the results presented now in PNAS are
derived from the same samples, what differences in method they applied,
and how much the change in their conclusion is determined not by a
biological or social phenomenon, but rather by a change in the author’s
assumptions and expectations. We reserve our judgement in this regard
until these contradictions are explained. We call upon the authors of
the PNAS paper to clearly explain the change in their statements from
one year to the next.
We continue to be surprised by the interpretation of the significance of
this paper as well as by the many representations made about it by the
authors for the general public and the media. We are deeply concerned by
the conclusions being drawn from those representations in terms of GMO
policy and trade, since we feel that these conclusions are not warranted
by this paper’s results or the interpretation of those results.
We have noticed troubling methodological and technical problems in the
PNAS paper which would have deserved close attention before publication,
and certainly before any conclusions could be drawn from it. We are
writing a first rebuttal of the paper dealing with these questions, and
will make this rebuttal public as soon as it is carefully reviewed and
considered by our colleagues. News about this rebuttal will be posted at
Given the fact that the paper was published nonetheless, and that
conclusions from the biological to the policy and commercial levels are
quickly being used in developing policy, we strongly recommend caution
in deriving policy from this paper. The scientific community needs the
opportunity to apply scrutiny to this work, so that discourse can help
guide exactly what can be said about this work. For now, there are
certainly more questions than answers brought by this research, will
need to be answered through thorough scientific scrutiny and continued
research on the fate of transgenes in and out of Mexican maize. Stay tuned.
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