SAN FRANCISCO, March 24, 2000 - A report released by theRural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI) revealsthat Terminator and Traitor technology are riding a fast track tocommercialization. Terminator technology, the genetic engineeringof plants to produce sterile seeds, is universally considered themost morally offensive application of agricultural biotechnology,since over 1.4 billion people depend on farm-saved seeds. Traitortechnology, also known as genetic use restriction technology(GURTs), refers to the use of an external chemical to switchon or off a plant's genetic traits.
"We've continued right on with work on the Technology ProtectionSystem [Terminator]. We never really slowed down. We're ontarget, moving ahead to commercialize it. We never really backedoff." Harry Collins, Delta & Pine Land Seed Co., January, 2000arget, moving ahead to commercialize it. We never really backedoff." Harry Collins, Delta & Pine Land Seed Co., January, 2000
"After Monsanto and AstraZeneca publicly vowed not tocommercialize terminator seeds in 1999, governments and civilsociety organizations were lulled into thinking that the crisis hadpassed. Nothing could be further from the truth," said RAFI'sExecutive Director Pat Mooney. "Despite mounting oppositionfrom national governments and United Nations' agencies, research on Terminator and Traitor (genetic trait control) is moving fullspeed ahead."
According to RAFI, Delta & Pine Land, the world's largest cottonseed company, is moving aggressively to commercialize Terminator.And despite massive protests, the US Department of Agriculturesupports and defends its anti-farmer patent and research on suicideseeds. Last year, AstraZeneca conducted field trials on genetic traitcontrol technology (Traitor technology) in the UK. According toindustry sources, it is not the first company to conduct field testsof this kind.
RAFI's report concludes that corporate commitments to disavowTerminator are virtually meaningless in light of the pace ofcorporate takeovers. Monsanto and AstraZeneca have each mergedwith other companies since they pledged not to commercializeorporate takeovers. Monsanto and AstraZeneca have each mergedwith other companies since they pledged not to commercializesuicide seeds.
* On December 2, 1999 Novartis and AstraZeneca announced theywould spin-off and merge their grochemical and seed divisions tocreate the world's biggest agribusiness corporation -- to be named"Syngenta."
* On December 19, 1999 Monsanto announced that it will mergewith drug industry giant Pharmacia & Upjohn to create a newcompany, named Pharmacia, with combined annual sales of $17 billion.
The Director General of the United Nations Food and AgricultureOrganization (FAO) Jacques Diouf recently declared his oppositionto Terminator. In publicly rejecting Terminator, FAO's Diouf hascome to the defense of the 1.4 billion people who depend uponfarm-saved seed for their survival.
Among the national governments that have announced theirintention to oppose Terminator technology are Panama, India,Ghana, and Uganda. India, one of the first governments to publiclyreject Terminator, explicitly prohibits Terminator genes in a draftbill now before the Indian Parliament. Ghanaian Minister ofEnvironment, Cletus Avoka, says that his government will notill now before the Indian Parliament. Ghanaian Minister ofEnvironment, Cletus Avoka, says that his government will nottolerate the use of Terminator technology. Panama's Minister ofAgriculture and Fisheries writes that his government "will adoptmeasures to prohibit the specific patents as well as the technologyin general." Ugandan officials have said that their government isdiscussing measures to outlaw Terminator at the highest levelsof government.
Terminator and Traitor technologies are not limited to a singlepatent, nor is the research confined to one or two companies.Delta & Pine Land is currently the high-profile crusader forTerminator, but the goal of genetic trait control is industry-wide.According to RAFI, over 30 patents are collectively held by themultinational agrochemical firms that dominate the field ofbiotechnology.
According to RAFI, the future of Terminator/Traitor Technologyrests with national governments and multinational corporations.The pressure points for political action are, first and foremost, withnational governments around the world. Second, pressure shouldbe applied at key international fora such as through the BioSafetyProtocol at the Convention on Biological Diversity, and intellectualproperty negotiations at the World Trade Organization.
Entitled Suicide Seeds on the Fast Track, the new RAFI
CommuniquÈ is available on RAFI's website  http://www.rafi.org.
Source/contact: RAFI International Office, 110 Osborne Street,,br>Suite 202, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3L 1Y5 Canada;
phone (204) 453-5259; fax (204) 925-8034;
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