Biotech Defamation Case May Send Peruvian Biologist to Jail

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ralo maiz non-transgenico

This outrageous case began when Antonietta Ornella Gutiérrez Rosati, a biologist at the La Molina National
Agricultural University in Lima, claimed to have identified a P34S promoter and NK603 and BT11 transgenes in 14 of 42 maize samples from the Barranca region. Her findings were not submitted to a peer-reviewed journal, but she did send them along to El Comercio, Peru's leading newspaper and called for a moratorium on the introduction of biotech crops. 

Ernesto Bustamente, the vice president of the Peruvian College of Biologists, disputed her findings, arguing (translation via Wayne Parrott) in his regular newspaper column:

The author had two absurdly improbable conclusions a) the simultaneous presence of three transgenic events from two different companies (a gene for resistance to the herbicide glyphosate; a gene for resistance to another herbicide glufosinate, and a Bt gene for resistance to a lepidopteran insect.  b) having found transgenics in 30% of the crops.  This is even more serious, given that one of the two companies has not commercialized its seeds.  These false and incoherent conclusions can be explained by the fact that the report has grave errors in procedure and quality control (absence of positive standards, wrong interpretation of the amplicons, etc.).

I do not know if transgenic maize is being grown in Peru; maybe yes, maybe no. It is also possible that Martians are alive and well in Barranca; maybe yes, maybe no.  What is certain is that no one has proven that there are transgenic crops in Barranca or in any part of Peru (except for experimentals).  Not yet.

Given this sequence of personal and institutional ineptitude, a false truth has been generated and disseminated internationally.  This should have been corrected by the investigator, the reporter, the ecologist, the politicized Conam, INIA, or the University.  Nevertheless, I see with unease that each time a false truth is promulgated as a done deed, it gets used as a tool by those ideological and pseudoenvironmental groups that use their anticorporate stances to torpedo the important role that modern biotech should play as a developmental tool for Peru.

Instead of rechecking her work or sending it out for peer review, Gutiérrez sued Bustamente for defamation, and a Peruvian court ruled that he had defamed her. [Aside: Defamation laws in Latin America are infamous for being used to shut up people whom the elites dislike. Thank our founders for the First Amendment!] 

As Nature Biotechnology reported the case in February:

After Bustamante refused to retract his statements, Gutiérrez filed a suit for defamation. She later presented her findings to the Peruvian Genetic Society of which she is president, but would not comment on the case, except to say that "you must use respect" in scientific discussion and that her critics have "polarized" the debate.

The declaration of support for Bustamente being circutlated among researchers, reads in part:

More specifically, the verdict destroys the integrity of science. Ultimately, the strength of science lies in peer review. It is an established and universal procedure that scientists publish their work precisely so the rest of the scientific community can evaluate it. No scientist ever publishes under any illusion that their work will be accepted without question. A few of the published research papers stand the test of time. Others fall by the wayside, as scrutiny by the scientific community at large is able to find flaws or alternative interpretations for their results. Only when the science community at large validates a piece of scientific work after repeated questioning and challenges, thus separating facts from artifacts, can science move forward. Therefore, engaging in scientific critique has become both a right and a duty for scientists.

We are saddened that another Peruvian scientist took personal offense when her results were questioned. Legitimate scientists would have reviewed their data to ensure its integrity. Instead, she chose to seek redress through the court system. But by doing so, she violated the tenets that form the very foundation of science. We wish to stress that no court ruling is ever able to alter scientific fact or the laws of nature.

Just so.

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  1. Leave a comment

    And get in trouble? Hell, no.

  2. “Shut up,” she explained.

  3. shut up people whom the elites dislike. Thank our founders for the First Amendment!

    Yes. And thank God that elites in this country don’t use any methods to squelch or discredit views contrary to their own beliefs!
    Thank God for that! Yes, thank God for that! Thanks!
    Thanks God! Thanks!

    1. Defamation laws in Latin America are infamous for being used to shut up people whom the elites dislike

      Here I fixed it for you, now you have something more to aim profanity at.

  4. We wish to stress that no court ruling is ever able to alter scientific fact or the laws of nature.

    ‘Nuff said.

    1. We wish to stress

      ‘Nuffer said.

  5. We wish

    “Nuffiest.

  6. ‘, even

  7. Obviously, the fact that a defamation law carries jail time is insane. It took a while digging through the links to see where Ron was getting the “jail” part of his headline, but I did find it. Yikes!

    But my question is: so was there frankenfood growing there or not? I mean, isn’t truth some element of their law like it is here?

    Oh, and if there was frankenfood growing there, are there laws in Peru that make it a crime to talk about it, like there is in, oh I don’t know… Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota, South Dakota, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas?

    1. I did a full text search of the florida statutes, and I can’t find “frankenfood” in there anywhere. Can you point out just what the hell it is you are talking about? Or is my sarcasm meter broken?

  8. I forwarded this to our biotechnology faculty. Maybe they will sign the declaration of support. I did.

  9. Bustamante is just a corporate paid shill for the agribusiness industry, which uses it’s influence in the corporate controlled media to suppress scientific evidence that transgenes are polluting the biosphere.

    These corporate hacks do everything in their power to prevent anti-GMO science from getting published, like the famous case of Dr. Putzai, who proved that GMOs cause organ damage and birth defects in rats. Fortunately, the very prestigious medical journal the Lancet published his work, but only after he was vilified by the agents of corporate facism.

    Of course the problem of transgenes contaiminating the ecosystem is known to Percy Schemeiser, who was sued by Monsanto for accidentally having GMO pollen drift into his crop and turn it into GMO canola.

    No doubt they will soon be suing the indegenous people of south America for the transgenes that have poluted their traditional (and religiously sacred) species of maize.

    If anything all the GMO engineering should be imprisoned for doing uncontrolled genetic experiments on human beings.

    1. 1 billion or more dead, yay!

    2. Why is it every time I’m sure Organic Girl is a joke she steps up and makes me reconsider…

      “”These corporate hacks do everything in their power to prevent anti-GMO science from getting published,””

      You mean like… throwing people in jail? Unfortunately they can’t do that.

      Whereas… oh forget it.

    3. [citation needed]

  10. You go Organic Girl. Shame on Bustamante. Let’s have all crops be organic. Who cares if that means most of the rest of the world will starve, at least those who are living will be eating food we approve of.

    1. When the earth’s ecosystem collapses due to all the genetic instability, smarty pants, it won’t matter how many people we could feed, because everyone will starve, and we’ll all be dying of new diseases. It will be back to the precambrian age where all life is reduced to a puddle of bacteria.

      1. Dont let anyone ever accuse you of being a chicken little. Really. You make chicken little look reasonable.

        1. Do you know what it’s like to fall in the mud and get kicked… in the head… with an iron boot? Of course you don’t, no one does. It never happens. Sorry, Ted, that’s a dumb question… skip that.

    2. You go Organic Girl. Shame on Bustamante. Let’s have all crops be organic. Who cares if that means most of the rest of the world will starve, at least those who are living will be eating food we approve of.

      Or we can go with the option you apparently support – lets grow a massive State leviathan to induce the living into their systemic servitude so that we may despoil them and use those resources to grow the number of victims for the State to consume, and repeat this as long as possible.

      GMO increases the number of victims and increases their dependence on the State for survival. What’s not to love?

  11. I just read an article in Wired about how stem rust is making a comeback (overcoming the resistance created through gene manipulation during the Green Revolution), which could threaten a great deal of wheat production in Africa and the Near East. If we don’t come up with a genetic modification to stop the spread of the blight, millions of people may starve to death.

    1. Stem rust is natures way of telling us not to eat wheat.

      That and wheat gluten allergies.

      1. Um, yeah. The article is on-line.

        1. Stem rust is nature’s way of telling starving Africans not to eat.

      2. Do you hear her? It’s nature! She’s talking to us!

    2. PL: Good news is that biotech crop breeders have found a gene that confers resistance to Ug99 rust. I wonder.

      Now if only there were some safe well proven technically efficient way to incorporate the resistance gene quickly into crop varieties.

      1. Now if only there were some safe well proven technically efficient way to incorporate the resistance gene quickly into crop varieties.

        Yes, if only. Since that option doesn’t exist, how about we try copying and pasting that gene and see if it works or not without bothering to do any real testing on it’s safety and effectiveness before making the world food supply dependent on it?

    3. I sort of have to agree with the envirotards on this one — this is a catastrophic problem precisely because there isn’t enough variety in food crops.

      It’s also one drawback to genetic engineering done stupidly — if a gene turns out to have some long-run problems, and you’ve stuck it into a large percentage of your food supply, you’re in deep shit. Naturally, propagation of even highly advantageous mutations is slow enough to prevent that sort of systemic brittleness.

      1. I sort of have to agree with the envirotards on this one — this is a catastrophic problem precisely because there isn’t enough variety in food crops.

        Bingo!

    4. I just read an article in Wired about how stem rust is making a comeback (overcoming the resistance created through gene manipulation during the Green Revolution), which could threaten a great deal of wheat production in Africa and the Near East. If we don’t come up with a genetic modification to stop the spread of the blight, millions of people may starve to death.

      We could just learn the lesson that monoculture and dependence on a handful of commodity crops to maximize the number of people in need of State “help” isn’t the way to go.

      Rather than genetically engineering a “solution” to this problem created by the “solution” of the Green revolution- we could grow thousands of other types of wheat and many other grains and many other non-grain crops.

      Or we can build one really big biotech basket and give it to the State to hold as we go marching down the road to serfdom.

  12. a false truth has been generated

    Is false truth a defense to slander or to wrongly suing for slander or only a true truth? True or false?

  13. “When the earth’s ecosystem collapses due to all the genetic instability”

    Unfounded assertion FTW! ‘Cause, you know, the genomes of lifeforms have never changed in major respects before.

    1. When the genomes of lifeforms changed before it was always guided by the hand of Gaia. Not some mad scientist trying to make money by enslaving the DNA of our food chain.

      Do you want all life on earth to be the product of a corporation? Do you?

      1. I hope you don’t eat vegetables. those things have been guided by the hand of man for thousands of years.

      2. Hahaha… I’ve been away and missed the new clown…

  14. the verdict destroys the integrity of science

    What integrity?

  15. “Antonietta Ornella Guti?rrez Rosati … claimed to have identified a P34S promoter and NK603 and BT11 transgenes in 14 of 42 maize samples from the Barranca region.”

    Umm, care to translate that into English, Ron?

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