Advisory group named to CEC study on genetic diversity of maize in Mexico

Montreal, 10/7/2002 – The 16-member advisory group that will work with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to examine issues related to the conservation and sustainable use of traditional maize varieties in Mexico was announced today by the CEC Secretariat.

In June, the CEC Secretariat informed the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States–the three partners to the North American Free Trade Agreement–that it would prepare a special report on the potential effects of transgenic corn on traditional maize varieties in Mexico. Authority for the study comes from Article 13 of the North American Agreement on Environmental Cooperation (NAAEC), the environmental side accord to NAFTA.

The effects of transgenic varieties on maize in Mexico–the crop’s center of origin–have been a source of public concern and the CEC Secretariat has received numerous requests to initiate this analysis.

The advisory group, chaired by Dr. José Sarukhán, senior professor of ecology at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México–UNAM), and Rapporteur of the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology, includes a distinguished group of experts encompassing the fields of ecology, biotechnology, law, economics and public policy:

  • David Andow, University of Minnesota, United States
  • Mindahi Crescencio Bastida-Muñoz, Consejo Mexicano para el Desarrollo Sustentable and member of the CEC Joint Public Advisory Committee, Mexico
  • Andrew Baum, SemBioSys Genetics Inc., Calgary, Canada
  • Susan Bragdon, International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, United States
  • Conrad Brunk, University of Victoria, Canada
  • Don S. Doering, World Resources Institute, Washington, DC, United States
  • Norman Ellstrand, University of California at Riverside, United States
  • Amanda Gálvez, UNAM, Mexico
  • Luis Herrera Estrella, Centro de Investigación y Estudios Avanzados del Instituto Politécnico Nacional, Mexico
  • Julian Kinderlerer, University of Sheffield, England
  • Lilia Pérez Santiago, Unión de Comunidades Productoras Forestales Zapotecas-Chinantecas de la Sierra Juárez UZACHI
  • Peter Phillips, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • Peter H. Raven, Missouri Botanical Gardens, United States
  • Allison A. Snow, Ohio State University, United States
  • José Luis Solleiro Rebolledo, Agrobio, Mexico
  • Victor Manuel Toledo, UNAM, Mexico

The advisory group will guide the CEC Secretariat’s examination of this issue and will participate in the development of the special report to the Council of the CEC, including whatever recommendations the advisory group may wish to make.

As with other reports initiated by the CEC Secretariat under NAAEC’s Article 13, the maize study will include input from prominent international and national groups, sector organizations, the private sector, interested members of the public, as well as the three NAAEC parties. Public input will be solicited throughout the study process, including a symposium planned for Mexico in 2003.

The Secretariat’s report is expected in early 2004.

The CEC was established by Canada, Mexico and the United States to build cooperation among the three partners in implementing NAFTA’s environmental accord. The CEC addresses environmental issues of continental concern, with particular attention to the environmental challenges and opportunities presented by continent-wide free trade.