Suicide Seeds on the Fast Track

Date Sun, 26 Mar 2000 10:25:24 -0800

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   EarthVision Reports

   SAN FRANCISCO, March 24, 2000 - A report released by the Rural
   Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) reveals that Terminator
   and Traitor technology are riding a fast track to commercialization.
   Terminator technology, the genetic engineering of plants to produce
   sterile seeds, is universally considered the most morally offensive
   application of agricultural biotechnology, since over 1.4 billion
   people depend on farm-saved seeds. Traitor technology, also known as
   genetic use restriction technology (GURTs), refers to the use of an
   external chemical to switch on or off a plant's genetic traits.

     "We've continued right on with work on the Technology Protection
     System [Terminator]. We never really slowed down. We're on target,
     moving ahead to commercialize it. We never really backed off."
     Harry Collins, Delta & Pine Land Seed Co., January, 2000

   "After Monsanto and AstraZeneca publicly vowed not to commercialize
   terminator seeds in 1999, governments and civil society organizations

   were lulled into thinking that the crisis had passed. Nothing could
   further from the truth," said RAFI's Executive Director Pat Mooney.
   "Despite mounting opposition from national governments and United
   Nations' agencies, research on Terminator and Traitor (genetic trait
   control) is moving full speed ahead."

   According to RAFI, Delta & Pine Land, the world's largest cotton seed

   company, is moving aggressively to commercialize Terminator. And
   despite massive protests, the US Department of Agriculture supports
   and defends its anti-farmer patent and research on suicide seeds.
   year, AstraZeneca conducted field trials on genetic trait control
   technology (Traitor technology) in the UK. According to industry
   sources, it is not the first company to conduct field tests of this

   RAFI's report concludes that corporate commitments to disavow
   Terminator are virtually meaningless in light of the pace of
   takeovers. Monsanto and AstraZeneca have each merged with other
   companies since they pledged not to commercialize suicide seeds.
     * On December 2, 1999 Novartis and AstraZeneca announced they would

       spin-off and merge their agrochemical and seed divisions to
       the world's biggest agribusiness corporation -- to be named
     * On December 19, 1999 Monsanto announced that it will merge with
       drug industry giant Pharmacia & Upjohn to create a new company,
       named Pharmacia, with combined annual sales of $17 billion.

   The Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture
   Organization (FAO) Jacques Diouf recently declared his opposition to
   Terminator. In publicly rejecting Terminator, FAO's Diouf has come to

   the defense of the 1.4 billion people who depend upon farm-saved seed

   for their survival.

   Among the national governments that have announced their intention to

   oppose Terminator technology are Panama, India, Ghana, and Uganda.
   India, one of the first governments to publicly reject Terminator,
   explicitly prohibits Terminator genes in a draft bill now before the
   Indian Parliament. Ghanaian Minister of Environment, Cletus Avoka,
   says that his government will not tolerate the use of Terminator
   technology. Panama's Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries writes
   his government "will adopt measures to prohibit the specific patents
   as well as the technology in general." Ugandan officials have said
   that their government is discussing measures to outlaw Terminator at
   the highest levels of government.

   Terminator and Traitor technologies are not limited to a single
   patent, nor is the research confined to one or two companies. Delta &

   Pine Land is currently the high-profile crusader for Terminator, but
   the goal of genetic trait control is industry-wide. According to
   over 30 patents are collectively held by the multinational
   agrochemical firms that dominate the field of biotechnology.

   According to RAFI, the future of Terminator/Traitor Technology rests
   with national governments and multinational corporations. The
   points for political action are, first and foremost, with national
   governments around the world. Second, pressure should be applied at
   key international fora such as through the BioSafety Protocol at the
   Convention on Biological Diversity, and intellectual property
   negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

   Entitled Suicide Seeds on the Fast Track, the new RAFI CommuniquÈ is
   available on RAFI's website [1]

   Source/contact: RAFI International Office, 110 Osborne Street, Suite
   202, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3L 1Y5 Canada; phone (204) 453-5259; fax
   (204) 925-8034; email [2] The above article was
   reprinted with permission from the Pesticide Action Network Updates
   Service (PANUPS), a product of:

   Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) 49 Powell St., Suite
   500, San Francisco, CA 94102 USA Phone: (415) 981-1771 Fax: (415)
   981-1991 Email: [3] Web: [4]

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