On April 4, Nature sent ripples through the scientific community and the popular press by admitting it made a mistake. In an unprecedented action, editor Philip Campbell concluded in the journal's online version that "evidence available is not sufficient to justify publication" of a paper that appeared in the Nov. 29, 2001 issue. It wasn't exactly a retraction, but it was close. Along with its statement, Nature published two rebuttals to the original paper, plus a response from authors David Quist and Ignacio Chapela of the department of environmental science, policy, and management at the University of California, Berkeley.1

The April 4 online announcement, then publication in print April 11, was the latest in a series of skirmishes that started before the Nov. 29 issue appeared. Using PCR to detect a DNA signature diagnostic of genetic engineering, Quist and Chapela claimed that biotech transgenes had invaded so-called land races...

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