The influential science journal Nature has declared that a report on genetically improved corn growing in Mexico “was not well researched enough and should not have been published,” The Washington Post reports today. This week’s Nature carries a note from the editors, reading: “Nature has concluded that the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper.”
The paper, by the University of California at Berkeley’s Ignacio Chapela (a board member of the anti-biotech Pesticide Action Network) and David Quist, claimed genetically improved crops were spreading across the continent. That won the praise of anti-biotech activists — who are now embarrassed by what the Post calls “Nature‘s near-retraction of the article.”
Says University of Washington researcher Matthew Metz: “The Quist and Chapela study is a testament to technical incompetence.” And geneticist Michael Freeling, also of Berkeley, demands: “Since Quist and Chapela published bad science in Nature, both scientists and Nature must come absolutely clean, retract and apologize.”
Not likely. Despite the criticisms of peers, and the fact that hundreds of scientists and 19 Nobel Prize laureates have signed a declaration that biotech is safe and “can contribute substantially in enhancing quality of life by improving agriculture, health care, and the environment,” Quist and Chapela stand by their report. And activists all over North America are proceeding with plans to hold “actions” April 10-17 to smear genetic improvement technology.