Panel: Crop Contamination and the Future of Indigenous Agriculture


will be one of the major themes at

Biodevastation 7: A Forum on Environmental Racism, World Agriculture and


May 16-18, 2003, Mildred Bastian Theatre, 5600 Oakland, St. Louis, Missouri


Dr. Ignacio Chapela, University of California at Berkeley

Dr. Mae Wan Ho, Institute for Science in Society (London)

Michael Dorsey, Dartmouth College

Ana Ruiz Diaz, Permaculture Network of Mexico

Transgenic DNA has made its way into traditional maize landraces in Oaxaca,

Mexico. Dr. Ignacio Chapela will elaborate on the extent to which transgenic

corn has contaminated indigenous maize and is actively growing in Mexico. He

will also address some of the political economic implications of his research

findings in Mexico for the $30 billion global seed market. As he noted in

the California Weekly “The East Bay Express” in 2002, there’s something

inherently unnerving about the fact that his $2,000 research project has

provoked such an intense reaction from an industry that has poured millions

into biotechnology research.

Beyond the impacts of transgenic DNA in indigenous corn, the panel will

explore how horizontal gene transfer threatens biodiversity on a global scale.

As panelist Dr. Mae Wan Ho notes, “Horizontal gene transfer could spread

transgenic DNA to unrelated species, in principle, to all species that

interact with the transgenic plant, including bacteria and viruses in all

environments, and animals that feed on the plant. Chief among the potential

dangers are the spread of antibiotic resistance marker genes, the creation of

new viruses and bacteria that cause diseases, and insertion mutagenesis,

including cancer in mammalian cells.

Genetic pollution and horizontal gene transfer also underscore the importance

of a largely unseen development which is nevertheless changing the face of

life on earth: the transgenic manipulation of “lesser species,” such as

microbes, insects and fish. Drs. Chapela and Ho will chart recent

developments and preview what is to come in this field.

The panel will also consider the ways which bioprospectors and biopirates

alike are rent seeking patents and profits on select aspects of plant genetic

resources, fauna and human beings — often without the prior informed consent

of indigenous communities where the collection is underway. Panelist Michael

Dorsey, a researcher at Dartmouth College, notes “Preliminary data from the

upper Amazon basin indicates that the benefits of bioprospecting overwhelming

apply to firms and institutions based in the global north and not to the

countries where prospecting occurs, and especially not to indigenous

communities where prospecting often takes place.”

Panelist Ana Ruiz Diaz, from the Permaculture Network of Mexico, will

consider the extent of community and indigenous resistance to contemporary

bioterrorism. Ruiz Diaz will discuss efforts to pass the Mexican Federal Law

for Packaging which sought to impose a moratorium on genetically modified

organisms, as well as on ongoing legal efforts to stop foreign bioprospecting

and biopiracy in Mexico.

As Diaz notes, “Although multinational firms are conducting a huge planetary

experiment capable of threatening the global food supply, communities are not

standing still, and they will not — ever.”

The major panel on crop contamination will be�

10:00 am, Sunday, May 18. “Crop Contamination and the Future of Indigenous


Biodevastation 7 also includes the following panel discussions:

10:00 am, Friday, May 16. “The International Threat to Farms and Farmers”

7:00 pm, Friday, May 16. ” Globalization, Food Imperialism and War ”

10:00 am, Saturday, May 17. “Backyard Bioweapons: Biolabs, Biodefense,

Biotech, & Billions of $”

7:30 pm, Saturday, May 17. “Environmental Racism”

On the afternoon of Sunday, May 18 there will be an anti-globalization

convergence at the World Agricultural Forum. or


Biodevastation 7 is sponsored by the Gateway Green Alliance, P.O. Box 8094,

St. Louis MO 63156, USA 314-664-1199

Cosponsors: Institute for Social Ecology, Greens/Green Party USA, JMG

Foundation, Ben & Jerry’s Foundation, Solidago Foundation, Fund for Wild


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