Organic Consumers Association

OCA
Homepage

Previous Page

Click here to print this page

Make a Donation!

JOIN THE OCA NETWORK!

More on the Return of the Controversial Terminator Gene Technology

>From <gaia@gaianet.org>
Feb. 8, 2005

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

EXTREMELY urgent action is required from you all, please copy, paste and
sign on the letter below, send to the addresses given, and forward this
information to anyone who you think might be concerned about the future of
food security.

The Canadian Government is attempting to forcibly overturn the worldwide ban
on Genetically Modified "Terminator" seeds, the seeds that produce sterile
grains that will never germinate. At the United Nations meeting in Bangkok
tomorrow, Canada intends to raise its objections to the current ban on
Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs), which include Terminator
technology. If they don't get their way, they intend to "Block consensus".
We know this because documents for the Canadian delegation's negotiations
tomorrow have been leaked to a Canadian NGO, the ETC Group.

When Monsanto and the GM industry first proposed Terminator Technology as a
means to prevent farmers saving and planting patented GM seeds, there was
worldwide outrage. A ban was introduced in 1998 on these "suicide seeds".
However the industry never gave up hope that it would one day be the key to
total GM control of the world's food supply. Now that the likelihood of
cross-pollination and contamination has been proven beyond a doubt, the
industry is pushing for Terminator as a solution to prevent it spreading
into the gene pool!

Terminator does not only threaten the food security of farmers and create
total dependency by making their crops sterile, but even more terrifying is
the risk that the gene for sterility can cross-pollinate into local
varieties. Although it is often assumed that this cannot happen because the
crop is sterile, the bought seed does in fact pollinate before it produces
the crop. Pollination and out-crossing of sterility is therefore a
possibility, and could have appalling implications for food security and
future seed supply.

Terminator might not just prevent GM spreading into the gene pool, it could
decimate it entirely.

You can take action by signing and forwarding the letter below TODAY. But
also please make an effort to help your own government to realise that this
proposal from Canada must be opposed, and that all countries must stand up
to Canada in the UN negotiations tomorrow.

Best wishes,
Teresa

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

For more information on Terminator Technology:
www.etcgroup.org/documents/TermCom03.pdf

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 <mailto:jim@etcgroup.org>
or hope@etcgroup.org <mailto:hope@etcgroup.org>

Pat Mooney (in Ottawa) +1 613 241 2267 etc@etcgroup.org
<mailto:etc@etcgroup.org>
Kathy Jo Wetter (USA) +1 919 9605223 kjo@etcgroup.org
<mailto:kjo@etcgroup.org>

***********************************
1. Sign-on Letter to Canadian Govt
Date: 7 February 2005
2. URGENT: Canadian govt to unleash terminator! - help!
Email from Jim Thomas of ETC Group. Date: 7 February 2005
3.Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshellat UN Meeting
Press Release from ETC Group. Date: 7 February 2005
www.etcgroup.org
4. "Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use
Restriction Technologies (GURTS)
Extract from Leaked Document of the Canadian Delegation to United Nations
SBSTTA Negotiations, Bankok. Date: February 2005
www.etcgroup.org
5. Morely Urged to Oppose Terminator Genes
Press Release from Five Year Freeze (UK). Date: 7 February 2005
***************************************

1. Sign-on Letter to Canadian Govt

Date: 7 February 2005

Send to:
1) Paul Martin, Canadian Prime Minister, martinp@perl.gc.ca
2) Andy Mitchell, Minister of Agriculture and Food, Mitchell.a@parl.gc.ca
3) F.B. Fadden, President of Canadian Food Inspection Agency,
faddenr@inspection.gc.ca
4) Head of the Canadian Delegation in Bangkok, Robert McLean, Environment
Canada, Robert.Mclean@ec.gc.ca tel +1 (819) 9971303
5) ) Jennifer McLean, Canadian Food Inspection Office,
(mcleanje@inspection.gc.ca - phone 613 2252342 ext 4797),
6) ) Toolika Rastogi, Canadian Food Inspection Office
(rastogit@inspection.gc.ca phone 613 2252342 est 4017
7) Copy to: etc@etcgroup.org

February 7, 2005

Prime Minister Paul Martin
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario

Dear Mr. Martin,

I am writing to urgently request that you continue support for the current
international ban on Terminator Technology, officially known as Genetic Use
Restriction Technologies (GURTS).

Terminator technology was developed jointly by the US government and the
seed industry to prevent farmers from saving seed from one year's harvest
and replanting it the next season. It is considered the most controversial
and immoral agricultural application of genetic engineering to date. Massive
public opposition to the introduction of these "suicide seeds" in 1998
forced the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to impose a de facto
moratorium on further development of GURTS.

Until recently, only a few multinational seed companies and the US
government were pressing for a lifting of the ban on GURTS. But it now
appears that our own government is aiding and abetting these vested
interests.

According to leaked instructions to the Canadian delegation at SBSTTA 10 (a
scientific advisory body to the CBD) in Bangkok, Thailand, Canada will
insist on Wednesday, February 9, 2005, that governments accept the field
testing and commercialization of GURTS varieties. Canadian negotiators have
been instructed to undermine an official UN report recommending that
governments seek prohibitions on GURTS technology. They have also been
instructed to "block consensus" on other options if the ban is not lifted.

Farmers have an inalienable right to save, re-use, and exchange seed based
on the traditional practices of thousands of generations of cultivators
worldwide. The lifting of the moratorium on GURTS would effectively end
farmers' rights to save seed and pose a serious threat to food sovereignty.

It is appalling that the Canadian government is adopting such heavy-handed
tactics in support of multinational seed companies and the US government.
The Canadian delegation's strategy in Bangkok has to be abandoned. The
Canadian government must reverse its stand on this issue and join with other
governments to prohibit the GURTS technology once and for all.

In the interests of the world's farmers and people everywhere, I urge you,
as Prime Minister, to immediately take action on this critical issue by
directing the Canadian delegation to support the moratorium on GURTS.

Sincerely,

XXXXXX

***************************************

2. URGENT: Canadian govt to unleash terminator! - help!

Email from Jim Thomas of ETC Group. Date: 7 February 2005

Dear friends..

Hi this is Jim Thomas.. [ETC group]

below please find very very urgent and alarming news about terminator -

PLEASE FORWARD TO OTHERS... AND TO AS MANY EMAIL LISTS ETC AS POSSIBLE!

we are afraid that Canada is about to break the seal on the current
moratorium on terminator (see leaked document) - we need all the pressure
and outrage focused to the Canadian govt we can generate.. and also to other
governments to confirm that they will stand up to Canada.

besides the details of the head of Canadian delegation (which are in the
news release). the position on GURTS (and the Canadian governments media
strategy for deflecting concern) seems to have been coordinated by Canadian
FoodIInspection Agency (Plant Biosafety office) and the relevant people seem
to be Jennifer McLean (mcleanje@inspection.gc.ca - phone 613 2252342 ext
4797), Toolika Rastogi (rastogit@inspection.gc.ca phone 613 2252342 est
4017)

Protest should of course go to a much higher level than them. Its important
to be aware that they have already prepared a set of 'media lines' to deal
with protest - ie they expect it to be controversial...

**************************************

3.Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshellat UN Meeting

Press Release from ETC Group. Date: 7 February 2005
www.etcgroup.org

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 wasnt 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 Canadas 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 below.

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 9605223 kjo@etcgroup.org
The Head of the Canadian Delegation in Bangkok is Robert McLean, Environment
Canada, Robert.Mclean@ec.gc.ca tel +1 (819) 9971303

*************************************

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

Extract from Leaked Document of the Canadian Delegation to United Nations
SBSTTA Negotiations, Bankok. Date: February 2005
www.etcgroup.org

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."

******************************

5. Morley Urged to Oppose Terminator Genes

Press Release from Five Year Freeze (UK). Date: 7 February 2005

The Five Year Freeze have urged Environment Minister Elliott Morley to
oppose moves by the Canadian Government to force through a proposal to
legalise the use of terminator genes at a UN meeting in Bangkok this week.

Documents released at the meeting of Subsidiary Body on Scientific,
Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) [1] reveal that the Canadian
Government is seeking to force through an amendment to recommendations to a
UN report which would:

"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".

General Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS) or terminator genes have been
widely condemned by governments and farming organisations across the world
because they restrict farmers' rights to save their own seeds for sowing the
next year by making them infertile without the use of specific
agro-chemicals. Concerns were raised about the genes spreading to non-GM
crops threatening the seed crops of poorest farmers when Monsanto first
proposed to use terminator technology in 1998.

The Canadian government has stated that if their proposal is rejected they
are "prepared to block consensus on this issue".

Commenting Five Year Freeze Director Pete Riley said,

"Canada's actions fly in the face of world opinion. It suggest that they may
be influenced by the giant biotech companies. The UK government must use all
their power and influence to oppose the legalisation of terminator
technology for the sake of farmers throughout the world who want the their
rights to save seeds every year protected by international agreements which
cannot be over turned by the likes of Monsanto.

ENDS

Notes

1. The meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and
Technological Advice (SBSTTA) which provides advice of the Conventionalon
Biodiversity is being held in Bangkok 7th to 11th February


Documents from this meeting released to the media indicate that the Canadian
Government is proposing amendments to a report to the UN by the Ad Hoc
Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (AHTEG) which
recommended that the moratorium of GURTS should continue