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Fashion designer Arrieta. Fashion designer Arrieta.

Fashion designer to head scientific agency’s GM biosecurity unit

A woman with no scientific background is in charge of policies for the safe use of genetically modified organisms

A fashion designer and member of Mexico’s ruling party who has no scientific background is the new chief of the federal government’s GM biosecurity unit, raising questions about her appointment to the role.

Edith Arrieta Meza, a fashion design graduate of the Jannette Klein University in Mexico City, became head of CIBIOGEM – a federal government agency that develops policies for the safe use of genetically modified organisms – on December 10.

The role also makes Arrieta a deputy director at the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), of which CONABIO is part.

According to her public declaration on the government transparency platform declaraNet, Arrieta’s only previous work experience is as head of “Department B” between 2015 and 2018 in the Tlalpan government that was led by current Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum.

The newspaper El Universal said that Arrieta has been a member of the Morena party since at least 2014 and became the general secretary of its executive committee in the southern Mexico City borough of Milpa Alta, which borders Tlalpan.

In 2015, she ran as a candidate for Morena in the federal election and during her campaign appeared alongside now-President López Obrador and Martí Batres, the party’s leader in the Senate.

In photos posted to her Facebook account, Arrieta also appears with current Secretary of Public Administration Irma Sandoval and Morena Senator Citlalli Hernández, among other government figures.

Asked about the appointment, López Obrador said this morning he had been advised the information published was incorrect. If true, Arrieta will not remain in the post, he said, explaining that the head of Conacyt is looking into the matter.

Arrieta’s designation at the helm of CONABIO is not the only Conacyt appointment that has raised eyebrows.

Another new deputy director of the organization is David Alexir Ledesma, who was named head of communication and strategic information although he is only in the third semester of an undergraduate communication degree.

His appointment and 44,000-peso (US $2,300) monthly salary triggered a backlash on social media, with one Twitter user charging that it was proof of the new government’s lack of professionalism.

Another said that it a was a “shame” that people who have completed communication degrees and have ample experience in the field “have to give up opportunities like this” to people who are less qualified.

Source: El Universal (sp) 

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