Peruvian Franken-Corn Defamation Case Update



Last month, I reported on the outrageous case in Peru in which an activist researcher, Antonietta Gutiérrez, sued a fellow scientist, Ernesto Bustamante for defamation after he published a newspaper column in which he asserted that her claims to have found biotech corn "contamination" in Peru were unlikely. Gutiérrez evidently managed to convince a court that scientific criticism amounts to a personal attack. So Bustamante is guilty of defamation and he could be fined or even sent to jail.

Now scientists at the Peruvian National Institute for Agrarian Innovation have done their own study and found  no biotech corn "contamination." The Institute checked samples from 134 different fields for the presence of genes that might have come from cross-breeding with biotech varieties and found none.

In any case, the notion of biotech "contamination" is scientifically bogus. In a similar case in Mexico, director of the Center for Research and Advanced Studies in Irapuato, Luis Herrera-Estrella noted,

"There is no scientific basis for believing that out-crossing from biotech crops could endanger maize biodiversity. Gene flow between commercial and native varieties is a natural process that has been occurring for many decades. Nor is there reason to believe that these genes will become fixed into landraces unless farmers select them for their increased productivity. In the end, that would result in improving the native varieties."

I don't know about Peruvian law, but in the U.S. truth is a defense against claims of libel and slander.