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Canadian Government Will Push for Terminator Seeds at International Gathering

ETC Group: News: Canadian Gov. Pushes Terminator at UN Meeting

ETC Group News Release
7 February 2005
www.etcgroup.org


Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting:
All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

A confidential document leaked today to ETC Group reveals that the
Canadian government, at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok (Feb
7-11), will attempt to overturn an international moratorium on genetic
seed sterilisation technology (known universally as Terminator). Even
worse, the Canadian government has instructed its negotiators to "block
consensus" on any other option.

"Canada is about to launch a devastating kick in the stomach to the
world's most vulnerable farmers - the 1.4 billion people who depend on
farm saved seed," said ETC Group Executive Director Pat Mooney speaking
from Ottawa. "The Canadian government is doing the dirty work for the
multinational gene giants and the US government. Even Monsanto wasn't
prepared to be this upfront and nasty. Canada is betraying Farmers'
Rights and food sovereignty everywhere."

Terminator technology was first developed by the US government and the
seed industry to prevent farmers from re-planting saved seed and is
considered the most controversial and immoral agricultural application
of genetic engineering so far. When first made public in 1998,
"suicide seeds" triggered an avalanche of public opposition, forcing
Monsanto to abandon the technology and prompting the UN Convention on
Biological Diversity (CBD) to impose a de facto moratorium on its
further development. According to the leaked instructions to Canadian
negotiators at SBSTTA 10 (a scientific advisory body to the CBD),
Canada will insist on Wednesday (9 Feb.) that governments accept the
field testing and commercialization of Terminator varieties (referred
to as GURTS -- Genetic Use Restriction Technologies). Canada will also
attack an official UN report, prepared by an international expert
group, which is critical of the potential impacts of Terminator seeds
on small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. In stark contrast to Canada's
position, the expert report recommends that governments seek
prohibitions on the technology.

In Bangkok, civil society and Indigenous Peoples are calling on the
Canadian government to abandon its endorsement of Terminator and to
join with other governments to prohibit the technology once and for
all. Many African and Asian governments have called for Terminator to
be banned and the European Union has also been supportive of the
existing moratorium.

"It is outrageous that Canada is backing an anti-farmer technology and
shameful that it will 'block consensus' on any other outcome.
Governments from around the world must not accept this bullying
tactic," says ETC Group's Hope Shand from the negotiations in Bangkok.
"If Canada blocks decision-making on this issue, the moratorium will be
in jeopardy and terminator seeds will be commercialized ending up in
the fields of small farmers."

The full leaked text of the Canadian government's instructions to its
negotiators on Terminator/GURTS follows.

Hope Shand and Jim Thomas of ETC Group can be contacted at SBSTTA
negotiations in Bangkok on cell phone +44 (0) 7752 106806 or by email
jim@etcgroup.org or hope@etcgroup.org

Pat Mooney (in Ottawa) +1 (613) 241-2267 etc@etcgroup.org

Kathy Jo Wetter (USA) +1 (919) 960-5223 kjo@etcgroup.org

The Head of the Canadian Delegation in Bangkok is Robert McLean,
Environment Canada - Robert.Mclean@ec.gc.ca tel +1 (819) 997-1303



"Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic
Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS);

Canada has major reservations regarding the recommendations in the
AHTEG report. Canada notes that the experts were unable to reach
consensus and that while this is recognized in para. 15 of the report,
this should have been made clear in the recommendation section of the
report. Unfortunately, the report leaves the impression that consensus
was achieved on all of the recommendations when this was clearly not
case and in particular in terms of recommendation (b) which reads as
follows, "In view of the current lack of data, recommends that Parties
and other Governments consider the development of regulatory frameworks
not to approve GURTs for field-testing and commercial use."

Canada will suggest that the document clearly indicate in the Annex
that there is no consensus on for the recommendations. Alternatively,
the AHTEG report can be referred to as the "Chairs' report". Canada
also believes that the AHTEG report contains scientific inaccuracies
and a lack of balance in terms of reflecting both potential positive
and negative impacts of this technology, and these issues should be
addressed before the report is further distributed. We believe that it
would be beneficial for Parties and other governments to submit
comments to the Executive Secretary/CHM to represent national views to
improve the accuracy of the document, and that these be made available
to both the 8j working group and COP.

Additionally, Canada will propose that SBSTTA adopt a recommendation
for decision at COP8 based on the revised wording of recommendation "b"
below and will propose this recommendation be incorporated for
consideration at the 8j meeting:

NEW WORDING for recommendation b) of AHTEG report

(b) In view of the current lack of data, recommend that Parties and
other Governments consider the development of domestic regulatory
frameworks TO ALLOW FOR THE EVALUATION OF NOVEL VARIETIES, INCLUDING THOSE WITH GURTS, FOR FIELD TESTING AND COMMERCIAL USE BASED ON APPROPRIATE SCIENCE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL RISK/SAFETY ASSESSMENTS.

In Canada's opinion the revised wording we are suggesting, strengthens
the recommendation and provides for a strong scientific assessment of
risk.

If we are unsuccessful in obtaining these additions (indication that
recommendations in the AHTEG report were not based on consensus OR
agreement to have national views submitted) AND changes to
recommendation "B" --or any other outcome which clearly addresses our
concern over a defacto moratorium on GURTS-- Canada is prepared to
block consensus on this issue."

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