Letter: Cool it

March 15, 2002

Like many other scientists, I am troubled by the unseemly controversy over claims that transgenic DNA may have spread to traditional varieties of Mexican maize ("Scientists call for reason in GM row", THES , March 8). I doubt whether there would have been such a reaction if the offending paper in Nature had been about a polymerase chain-reaction study of cross-pollination in non-GM crops.

Surely, if there is a suspicion that the original work was flawed, there is a long-established method to refute the findings - repeat the analysis independently of the original investigators.

The cause of knowledge is not served by premature editorials or petitions based on the supposition that inconvenient data may be flawed. The actions of some scientists involved have polarised even further the GM debate and complicated the process of informed dialogue.

Denis J. Murphy
University of Glamorgan

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