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Terminator Seeds are "Grossly Immoral" say Theologians

Three widely respected theologians have condemned Terminator technology ­ which produces genetically engineered plants with sterile seeds ­ as "grossly immoral".

Writing in a new publication, commissioned by Catholic development charity Progressio, Jesuit Priest Roland Lesseps, Father Sean McDonagh and Father Donal Dorr say the controversial GM technology, which is currently restricted by a temporary UN ban, offers "no benefit for farmers and consumers" and would have "long-term consequences for the environment".

Biotechnology companies claim that 'Terminator' seeds would be used to produce GM crops and trees which are engineered to stop GM traits spreading to other plants by inserting a 'suicide' gene. But Father Sean McDonagh, writing in the new publication, says: "There is simply no such thing as a safe and acceptable form of Terminator".

Instead, the theologians warn that the technology could have catastrophic effects on the poorest farmers in the developing world. Presently, 1.4 billion farmers rely on the practice of seed-saving to grow food to feed their families. If Terminator technology is commercialised, farmers' food security would be under threat. "Since poor farmers cannot afford to buy seed every year, they will go hungry", writes Roland Lesseps.

The theological argument against Terminator is equally striking, say the report's authors. "Terminator technology attacks the very principle of life itself", writes Lesseps. "Destroying the life principle in an organism is not a right relationship with creation which should be received as a gift from God to be shared by all."

The new publication, entitled "Unless the grain of wheat shall die", has been produced to coincide with the May 19-30 meeting of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), where the current UN ban on Terminator technology is likely to be discussed. The CBD has the power to lift the ban completely.

Progressio also launches its new report on Terminator technology, Against the Grain, today. The report urges the UK and EU to voice their support for the current UN ban on the technology and ensure it is upheld. The new report is available online at:

Progressio is a UK-based Catholic charity working to tackle poverty and injustice in developing countries. It has been campaigning against Terminator technologies since 2005 and is a founding member of the UK Working Group on Terminator technology and its current Chair. Progressio is also a member of the UK Food Group.