Contact: C.S. Prakash at 334-727-8023 or 334-444-7884 or firstname.lastname@example.org
WASHINGTON, Sept. 5 -- As Mexico's President Vincente Fox prepares to
meet President Bush, scientists are encouraging him to to allow Mexican
farmers and consumers to benefit from new technologies -- such as seeds
derived through biotechnology -- which have been used enthusiastically
in the United States, Argentina and Canada for years. At the same time,
he is being encouraged to disregard scare stories being spread by anti-technology
"It is ironic that Mexico -- the birthplace of corn -- is not taking
full advantage of biotech corn seeds which have helped American farmers
significantly reduce labor and pesticide use," said Dr. C.S. Prakash of
Tuskegee University and the AgBioWorld Foundation. "Mexican scientists
at the National Agricultural Research Program (INIFAP), the Center for
Research and Advanced Studies (CINVESTAV) and the International Maize
and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) have done excellent research, but
Mexican farmers have not been allowed to take advantage of it."
Dr. Prakash also supported criticism of Greenpeace and other anti-biotech
groups by Mexico's Victor Manuel Villalobos Arambula, Under-Secretary
for Agriculture at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, who
recently told the newspaper Reforma, "If those who call themselves environmentalists
were in fact pure environmentalists, they would be begging for GMOs to
be used." Similar views have been expressed by numerous other scientists
and agriculture experts on the AgBioWorld discussion boards found at http://www.agbioworld.org.
However, special interest groups and the activists they fund have been
spreading stories about "Frankenfood," monarch butterflies and "mystery
DNA" -- all of which are not supported by mainstream scientists. Concerns
about superweeds, mutant DNA and claims of genetic pollution are unfounded
and mislead consumers about the scientific facts and the underlying safety
of biotechnology crops. Anecdotal stories about biotech varieties outcrossing
with wild relatives and destroying native biodiversity are not supported
by evidence; biotech crops are no more likely than traditional crops to
outcross with wild species.
It is hoped that President Fox, whose family has a background in farming
and agriculture, will continue to be a champion of Mexican farmers and
that he will do all that he can to implement the acceptance of biotech
crops so that they too can benefit from plants with resistance to disease,
viruses, drought and heat stress.
As recent disputes over irrigation water along the border between Texas
and Mexico have shown, agricultural resources are limited, and a growing
population is likely to strain these resources even further in the future.
According to a new report from the International Food Policy Research
Institute (IFPRI) entitled 2020 Global Food Outlook: Trends, Alternatives,
and Choices, "decisions made now can have wide-reaching effects on food
security and nutrition in the future." The sooner the decision is made
to bring ag-biotech to Mexico, the greater its impact will be.