In early June, University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor Ignacio Chapela moved his office chair to the main quad of the campus and started conducting his affairs in public. Yes, Berkeley has nice enough weather to work outside, but Chapela was not there for the sunshine. He was staging a protest to decry his lack of tenure.

Chapela's protest did not last more than a few days. He returned to his air- conditioned office after getting a promise of fair treatment from the chancellor and a year-long extension of his assistant professorship, after which a final tenure decision will be made. The dispute underlying the affair still simmers, however.

At the heart of Chapela's saga is a paper he coauthored with one of his graduate students, David Quist, published in Nature.1 In the paper, Quist and Chapela claimed they had discovered genetically engineered genes in native Mexican corn...

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