By Rosanne Boyett
>Beacon Staff Writer
>Published Monday, July 26, 2010 6:02 PM MDT
>The New Mexico chile, latest candidate for genetic engineering, stars in
>an award-winning documentary that has touched the heart and soul of New
>This one-hour film, “Genetic Chile,” examines how corporate ownership of
>genetically modified organisms has changed traditional foods.
>”The seeds are sacred,” said Isaura Andaluz and she is adamantly opposed
>to the New Mexico State University-Las Cruces’ plant-engineering
>project. In 2008 the state legislature authorized $1 million to fund
>research at the campus for genetically engineered chile plants. The
>outcome is designed to permanently alter this traditional staple of New
>”It makes me angry as hell,” said Jenn Schramm after viewing “Genetic
>Chile.” Another area resident said, “Anyone who eats should be concerned
>about what is happening to our food supply and the control Monsanto and
>other corporations have on what we buy at the grocery store.”
>District 6 State Representative Eliseo Alcon said, “As someone who eats
>a lot of chile I need to find out more about GMOs and this film.” State
>Senator Lynda Lovejoy, District 22, commented, “We need to be concerned
>about GMOs not being labeled because this raises health issues for
>Typically corporations that patent a GMO seed conduct food safety
>studies in secret and they are done only for three months. There has
>never been a long-term, multi-generational food safety study completed,
>according to the film’s creator Chris Dudley. “If these industry
>scientists were so certain their products were safe, it would seem to me
>that they would be demanding more long-term, multi-generational food
>safety studies to defend their thesis,” said the filmmaker.
>The expense of developing GMO seeds has lead to an unprecedented
>consolidation of plant breeders and a marked loss in crop diversity.
>These altered seeds are more expensive than conventional varieties.
>Increasingly GMO seeds are being created with multiple genetically-
>induced traits, making the seeds even more expensive. Based on patent
>restrictions farmers are not allowed to save seeds to use for future
>Often agricultural producers choose GMOs because they produce crops that
>allow for a substantial decrease in labor costs and are less expensive
>in the short term. Corn and soy crops are both heavily subsidized by the
>federal government, which essentially guarantees farmers’ profits.
>Breeding does not involve any artificial manipulation of the genes.
>Traditional agricultural breeding involves selecting certain parents for
>mating. The hereditary substance of the father and mother are combined
>in a natural process.
>Conventional crossbreeding produces genetic control and balanced
>functioning within the seed. With genetic engineering these hereditary
>functions are disrupted through the artificial insertion of new genetic
>material into the plant’s seeds. Biotech proponents have argued that
>humans have been manipulating genes for ages in breeding but opponents
>state that premise is intentionally misleading.
>This GMO technology may result in an unpredictable creation of new
>molecules that may be toxic, allergenic or may disturb the metabolism of
>the cell, this disruption of cell functions may generate unexpected
>toxic or allergenic molecules. The potential for development of unknown
>characteristics is one of the reasons opponents question the value of GE
>”Controlling the seed is not some abstraction. Whoever controls the seed
>controls the world’s food supply,” according to a May 2010 article in
>Vanity Fair magazine.
>In May the New Mexico Filmmaker’s five-member judging panel named
>”Genetic Chile” this year’s top documentary film. Each summer the
>winning films in the six categories are shown at seven locations across
>the state. Eligibility for entries includes filming in New Mexico by a
>resident filmmaker. Lovejoy stated the New Mexico Filmmakers’ goal is to
>raise residents’ economic status by promoting jobs in the state’s film
>For thousands of years farmers and herders have selectively bred their
>plants and animals to produce useful hybrids. It was a hit or miss
>process because the actual mechanisms that governed inheritance were
>unknown. Knowledge of genetic mechanisms resulted from careful
>laboratory breeding experiments carried out over the last century and
>By the 1890’s the invention of better microscopes allowed biologists to
>discover the basic facts of cell division and sexual reproduction. With
>better research equipment genetic research focused on the transmission
>of hereditary traits from parents to children. A number of hypotheses
>were suggested to explain heredity but Gregor Mendel, a little- known
>Central European monk, was the first person whose theories of genetic
>trait transmission were acknowledged. The 1866 publication of his
>hypothesis went unrecognized until 1900 when his ideas gained acceptance.
>In contrast to more than a century of scientific research on plant
>hybrids, the development of genetically modified organisms has altered
>the cultural understanding of agricultural production.
>Reliance on this country’s corporate agricultural system is a continued
>threat to small farmers and has unpredictable effects on the natural
>environment, according to filmmaker Chris Dudley, an Albuquerque
>resident. He included the following concerns about GMOs and food
>production in his film “Genetic Chile.”
>1. GMOs do not increase yield. There is not one single marketed GMO that
>has demonstrated increased yield, enhanced nutrition, salt resistance or
>2. Until recently there have been no long-term food safety studies done
>on even one GMO seed.
>3. The corporate owners of the seed patents have forbidden independent
>food safety studies.
>4. At least 80 percent of GMO crops are tolerant of, not resistant to,
>the proprietary herbicide. This means the plants are filled with the
>5. There seems to be something questionable about a crop that is
>defended by a consortium of corporate scientists and government
>agencies. Typically scientists that criticize GMOs are attacked, muffled
>”Genetic Chile” legislative contact:
>Legislative contacts for genetically modified organisms and the New
>Mexico chile are listed below.
>? State Representative Ken Martinez, District 69, call: 287-0716 or
>287-8801 or email: email@example.com
>? State Representative Eliseo Alcon, District 6, call 285-6387 or
>1-505-986-4254 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
>? State Senator Lynda Lovejoy, District 22, call: 1-505-786-7498 or
>1-505-352-0967 or email: email@example.com
>? State Senator David Ulibarri, District 30, call: 287-8241 or
>1-505-986-4265 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
>providing background information for the
>European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering
>Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
By Rosanne Boyett