Few species have such an important place in the diet, society, culture and economy of Mexico as maize. On October 1st, 2009 the book "Origin and Diversification of Maize, an analytical review" was presented in the Jaime Torres Bodet auditorium of the National Museum of Anthropology and History. This book was written by researchers at the Institute of Biology of UNAM, the Postgraduate College and the Autonomous University of Mexico City.
The research and publication were sponsored by the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO, for its Spanish acronym) and funded jointly by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA, for its Spanish acronym), the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT, for its Spanish acronym) and the Interministerial
Commission on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms (CIBIOGEM, for its Spanish acronym), and coordinated in conjunction with the National Institute for Forestry, Agriculture and Livestock (INIFAP, for its Spanish acronym) and the National Ecology Institute (INE, for its Spanish acronym).
Despite a sizeable history of research and publications on maize, this publication stands out for having been conducted by a multidisciplinary group of specialists, under the direction of Dr. Robert Bye from the Institute of Biology of UNAM. The authors have compiled, analyzed, evaluated, and summarized the existing information on the centers of origin, domestication and diversification of maize in Mexico.
The book begins with an introductory chapter containing background information about the origin, domestication and diversification of maize. The first chapter describes the biological aspects of maize, from its classification to the traditional and modern agricultural systems in Mexico. Chapter 2 describes cultural and socioeconomic aspects of corn cultivation. Chapter three includes socioeconomic and cultural aspects, with historical, archaeological, ritual and symbolic evidence. Chapter 4 discusses the various theories regarding the origin and diversification of maize in Mexico. Chapter 5 documents the diversification and recent distribution of maize in Mexico, describing 61 varieties. Chapter 6 integrates the management of maize diversity based on the cultural diversity of the country. Chapter seven evaluated the biosafety law in relation to the centers of origin and diversification of maize. In the final chapter, the authors present their conclusions and recommendations.
The information contained in this publication is indispensible for anyone interested in understanding the evolution and diversification of this important plant. The researchers also conclude that it is necessary to continue the work of collection, systematization, characterization and evaluation of the diversity of the landraces, the in situ and ex situ conservation such as complementary actions and the development of new local materials. The scientific information gathered provides an improved framework for decision making on public policies related to the important issue of food security in the country.
Ing. Juan Elvira Quesada
Dr. José Sarukhán
Dr. Major Goodman
Dr. Takeo Kato