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Mexico’s new science minister fiercely skeptical of GMO crops and new breeding techniques

| | October 9, 2018

In early June, evolutionary developmental biologist Elena Álvarez-Buylla received an out-of-the-blue phone call from the campaign of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, then the front-runner in Mexico’s presidential election, with a question. If López Obrador won, would she consider becoming the next director of the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), the country’s science ministry and primary granting agency?

“I started to have a feeling that I couldn’t say no,” says Álvarez-Buylla, who founded and leads Mexico’s Union of Scientists Committed to Society (UCCS). “It doesn’t matter how big the personal sacrifice is. … This is a unique and historic moment” for Mexico.

Many scientists are delighted that one of their own will lead Conacyt—most of Álvarez-Buylla’s predecessors were career administrators—and that she’ll be the first woman to do so. But critics worry about her opposition to genetically modified (GM) maize, which Álvarez-Buylla fears could spoil the country’s astonishing agricultural biodiversity.

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“There’s not a clear boundary” between her research and her activism, says Rodrigo Álvarez Aguilera, a science teacher here and one of the petition’s organizers. Biochemist Luis Herrera Estrella, director of the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity in Irapuato, says Álvarez-Buylla is “a very good scientist” but calls her views on GM organisms “radical.”

Read full, original article: Mexico’s new science minister is a plant biologist who opposes transgenic crops

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Click the link above to read the full, original article.
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