Help Stop the Terminator
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Monsanto in Closed Negotiations with the US Department of Agriculture to
Finalize Control of Terminator Technology
Monsanto is moving swiftly to finalize its control over
the Terminator technology. The company may extract an
exclusive license from the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA) within weeks. RAFI is initiating an urgent
internet-based international campaign to stop the USDA -
Monsanto negotiations before it's too late. A special
WWW page has been set up at http://www.rafi.org/usda.html
to enable anyone with internet access to send a customized
message to the USDA asking it to cease negotiations and
bury this anti-farmer, anti-biodiversity technology.
Additional contact details are provided below.
A Monsanto subsidiary, Delta & Pine Land (D&PL), is currently negotiating
with the USDA to exclusively license the US Government's interest in the
controversial Terminator technology patent, a genetic technique that
renders farm-saved seed sterile. The seed-sterilizing technology -
developed with US taxpayer dollars - will prevent farmers from saving seed
from their harvest, forcing them to return to the commercial seed market
The Terminator patent (US # 5,723,765) is jointly owned by D&PL and the
USDA. Under US law, since D&PL worked with USDA to develop the technology,
the company has the option to negotiate an exclusive license. Hoping to
find a gullible international public, Monsanto's PR machine in Brussels,
New Delhi, Harare, St. Louis, and points in between, are massaging jittery
governments and publicly trying to distance the company from the Terminator
technology by referring to it as "conceptual" and "not yet proven." But
the company's move to negotiate an exclusive license with USDA confirms
that Monsanto is eager to commercialize Terminator seeds.
Despite international controversy boiling over in at least two UN agencies
rather than engage in public dialog, a leaked internal memo by Deputy
Administrator K. Darwin Murrell reveals that USDA hopes to quietly manage
controversy over the patent. The memo warns USDA employees that
Terminator research is "a sensitive issue that requires an extra level of
review" to help "avoid potential political and legal pitfalls." But the
USDA insists that the Terminator is a beneficial technology and confirms
that its scientists are themselves interested in developing the seed
sterilizing technique as platform to host a package of "stacked" traits in
genetically engineered plants.
SAY NO TO TERMINATOR!
RAFI invites you to join an international e-mail campaign being initiated
today to protest the licensing and commercial development of the Terminator
technology. RAFI has set up a special web page
(http://www.rafi.org/usda.html) that automatically sends a customized
e-mail to US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (also see address
information below). We urge you to write to US Department of Agriculture
officials to demand that USDA cease licensing negotiations and abandon all
international patent applications on a dangerous and immoral technology
that should never see the commercial light of day.
RAFI is urging government institutions to hold public inquiries on the
alarming rate of seed industry consolidation, and to take steps to
safeguard - not eliminate - the fundamental right of farmers to save seed
and breed crops.
RAFI is also calling for protest over the fact that public research funds
were used to develop a technology that will bring no agronomic benefit to
farmers, and no benefits to consumers. The Terminator technology is
designed simply to increase seed industry profits by forcing farmers to
return to the commercial seed market every year.
The potential impact of the Terminator technology goes far beyond US
borders. It is an international issue, with global implications. Delta &
Pine Land says that it will target the use of Terminator seeds in the
South, where over 1.4 billion people - primarily poor farmers - depend on
farm-saved seed as their primary seed source.
The owners of the Terminator patent have indicated that they will apply for
patents in 87 countries worldwide. The patent is pending at the European
Patent Office, in Canada, Australia, Japan and South Africa. USDA should be
asked to abandon all international patent applications, and to revoke
Terminator patents that have already issued, on the basis of public
morality as provided in Article 27(2) of GATT TRIPS.
The Terminator technology is the subject of controversy and debate
worldwide. For example:
… In May, the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological
Diversity (COP IV) recommended that the precautionary principle be applied
to the Terminator technology. COP IV also directed its scientific body to
examine the technology's impact on farmers and biodiversity. In light of
the Biodiversity Convention's ongoing assessment, USDA should cease
negotiations that will lead to its commercial development.
… India's agriculture minister Som Pal told the Indian parliament in August
that he has banned the import of seeds containing the terminator gene
because of the potential harm to Indian agriculture.
… By majority vote, the Dutch Parliament recently moved to oppose the
European Patent Directive by appealing to the European Court of Justice.
The Terminator patent is one of the key issues that prompted the Dutch to
renew objections to the Patent Directive that was passed by the European
Parliament earier this year.
Negotiations between USDA and Monsanto are now underway, it is important to
act now! Stop Monsanto's bid to license and control the dangerous
Terminator technology. E-mail messages and/or faxes should be sent to the
following USDA officials and members of Congress. To see sample letters,
and automatic sending options, go to RAFI's web site:
The Honorable Dan Glickman,
Secretary of Agriculture
United States Department of Agriculture
200-A Whitten Bldg.
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC 20250
tel: 202 720-3631
fax: 202 720-2166
Dr. Floyd P. Horn, Administrator
USDA Agricultural Research Service
302-A Whitten Building
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington DC 20250
Tel: 202 720-3656
Fax: 202 720-5427
The Honorable Robert F. Smith, Chair
House Agriculture Committee
1126 Longworth Bldg.
Washington DC 20515-3702
Tel: 202 225-6730
Fax: 202 225-0917
The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Chair
Senate Agriculture Committee
306 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
Washington DC 20510-1401
Tel: 202 224-4814
Fax: 202 224-1725