Daily News Archives
Critic Denied Tenure at UC Berkeley
(Beyond Pesticides, December 16, 2004) Ignacio
Chapela, PhD., an outspoken critic of the biotechnology industry, taught
his last class at University of California, Berkeley last week. Dr.
Chapela, who has been a member of the faculty since 1995, was denied
tenure at Berkeley, despite "overwhelming support from his own
department and from his academic peers," wrote GM
Watch founder Jonathan Matthews.
Dr. Chapela, who spoke at the 22nd National
Pesticide Forum, made the news a few years ago when his research
revealed contamination of native Mexican corn with genetically engineered
DNA. Dr. Chapela discovered that pollen had drifted several miles from
a field of genetically modified corn in Chiapas into the remote mountains
of Oaxaca in Mexico, landing in the last reserve of biodiverse maize
in the world. If genes from the rogue pollen actually penetrated the
DNA of traditional crops, they could potentially eliminate maize biodiversity
forever. In his report, Dr. Chapela cautiously stated that this indeed
might have happened. He expressed that sentiment in a peer-reviewed
study published by Nature in November 2001.
After an aggressive public relations campaign mounted for Monsanto by
the Bivings Group, a global PR firm that began with a vicious e-mail
attack mounted by two "scientists" who turned out to be fictitious,
Nature editors published a cautious partial retraction of the Chapela
report (see Daily
Dr. Chapela had also been a critic of a $25 million research deal between
UC Berkeley and the Swiss biotechnology company Novartis (now Syngenta).
Supporters of Dr. Chapela believe he is being retaliated against for
his criticism of the biotech industry. His last day was marked by hordes
of students protesting the administration’s decision to dismiss
For more information on this story, visit the SpinWatch
TAKE ACTION: Join GM Watch in showing your solidarity
with Dr. Chapela by writing a letter, and email, or calling the administration
of UC Berkeley. For more details, go to the action alert on their website.