Designer Arrieta with President López Obrador. Designer Arrieta with President López Obrador.

Scientist replaces fashion designer at GM biosecurity unit

Scientific agency defends designer's appointment citing her knowledge of native corn

A fashion designer who was employed as a deputy director of the federal government’s GM biosecurity unit has been replaced, the National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt) said.

Edith Arrieta Meza, a fashion design graduate of a Mexico City university, left her position yesterday, Conacyt said in a statement, explaining that she was invited to collaborate with CIBIOGEM – a federal government agency that develops policies for the safe use of genetically modified organisms – on a study about agriculture and agrobiodiversity in the capital.

“. . . The employment relationship between Ms. Arrieta and CIBIOGEM has concluded,” the statement said, explaining that Eva Bermúdez García, a biochemist, will take up the role of deputy director of development, scientific innovation and technology due to “the technical requirements that will be needed in the future.”

Arrieta was not appointed as the head of CIBIOGEM as some media outlets reported.

Conacyt clarified that since February 1, the chief of CIBIOGEM has been Dr. Emmanuel González Ortega, who has a PhD in biotechnology from the University of Barcelona, among other scientific qualifications.

News of Arrieta’s employment at CIBIOGEM triggered a backlash on social media because of her seemingly incongruent academic background as well as her membership in the ruling Morena party.

But Conacyt defended her appointment, stating that she has “extensive experience in organizational work” and had developed her knowledge of traditional agriculture while growing up in Milpa Alta, a largely rural southern borough of Mexico City.

“We want to emphasize that Ms. Arrieta possesses profound traditional knowledge about native Mexican corn acquired throughout her life as she comes from a farming family in Milpa Alta. Although unfortunately we’re still not capable as a society to recognize the immense value of this kind of knowledge, it was fundamental in order to adequately carry out the task entrusted to Ms. Arrieta,” the statement said.

“In addition to her knowledge and experience, Ms. Arrieta has held public positions in the Tlalpan government in areas related to the conservation of agrobiodiversity, her overall profile justified the assignment she was given in CIBIOGEM.”

Source: El Financiero (sp) 

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