Terminator Technology & GMOs: New Issues and Old Controversies

The ETC Group (formerly known as RAFI) today releases "Terminator
Technology: Five Years Later," a report on new issues and
controversies surrounding the ongoing development of genetic seed
sterilization - plants genetically engineered to render sterile
seeds. Terminator technology is being developed as a biological
mechanism to extinguish the right of farmers to save and re-plant
seeds from their harvest, thus creating greater dependence on the
commercial seed market.

ETC Group also reports on "Exorcist Technology," the biotech
industry's recent attempt to develop genetically modified crops that
shed their foreign DNA before harvest - with the help of chemical
inducers - as a means of silencing anti-GM critics. "Exorcist is a
new technology, but the basic strategy is the same - the biotech
industry wants to shift all the burden to the farmer and society. If
gene flow is a problem, the farmer will be obliged to apply a
chemical inducer to excise the offensive transgenes. It's the newest
bag of genetic tricks to fix the biotech industry's leaky genes and
public relations problems," explains Hope Shand of ETC Group.

We're still discovering new patent claims on Terminator, this time
by Syngenta, and now the seed industry and the US Department of
Agriculture are boldly extolling the virtues of Terminator
technology for small farmers and indigenous peoples," explains Shand.

"Even more dangerous, industry is greenwashing Terminator by
promoting it as a biosafety tool," says Jim Thomas of ETC Group.
"The promotion of Terminator seeds as a biosafety mechanism to
prevent GM pollution is biotech's Trojan Horse," explains Thomas,
"If Terminator technology wins market acceptance under the guise of
biosafety, it will eventually be used everywhere as a monopoly tool
to prevent farmers from saving and re-using seed."

Even UPOV, the international body that promotes plant breeders'
rights, concedes that Terminator has "considerable disadvantages for
society." A new memo from UPOV explains that Terminator will hinder
access to genetic resources.

If ministers of trade, agriculture and environment accept the US
government's invitation to attend the Sacramento Ministerial
Conference on Agricultural Science and Technology, June 23-25, the
ETC Group recommends that the US government be held accountable for
its role in developing, patenting and licensing Terminator
technology. The meeting is sponsored by the US Department of
Agriculture (owner of 3 Terminator patents), US AID, and the US
Department of State. "If the US government plans to showcase
biotech's new and controversial agricultural technologies for the
South in the lead up to the WTO Ministerial in Cancun, it should
begin by explaining why it supports an anti-farmer, anti-diversity
technology for use in the developing world - where 1.4 billion
people depend on farm-saved seeds," advises Silvia Ribeiro of ETC
Group.

Five years later, Terminator is not dead yet. Together with hundreds
of civil society, farmers' and indigenous peoples organizations
worldwide, ETC Group concludes that the only solution is for
governments to recommend a global ban on suicide seeds.

The full text of the 10-page report on Terminator is now available:
http://www.etcgroup.org

For more information:

Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) silvia@etcgroup.org

Hope Shand, ETC Group (USA) hope@etcgroup.org

Jim Thomas, ETC Group (UK) jim@etcgroup.org

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The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, formerly
RAFI, is an international civil society organization headquartered
in Canada. The ETC group is dedicated to the advancement of cultural
and ecological diversity and human rights. www.etcgroup.org. The
ETC group is also a member of the Community Biodiversity Development
and Conservation Programme (CBDC). The CBDC is a collaborative
experimental initiative involving civil society organizations and
public research institutions in 14 countries. The CBDC is dedicated
to the exploration of community-directed programmes to strengthen
the conservation and enhancement of agricultural biodiversity. The
CBDC website is www.cbdcprogram.org

AMP Section Name:Food and Agriculture

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