Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Ban Terminator Campaign

Greenpeace and the Ban Terminator Campaign revealed today that new patents have been granted in both Canada and Europe for a Terminator technology owned jointly by US seed corporation Delta and Pine Land and the United States Department of Agriculture.

The patents were granted on October 11, 2005 and October 5, 2005, respectively. The move confirms the greatest fears of farmers, Indigenous peoples groups, and social movements around the world that Terminator technology is once again being pushed towards commercialization.

Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile after first harvest so farmers cannot use the seed in the next season. It would force farmers to buy seed every year; and would also concentrate even more power in the hands of major biotechnology and seed corporations. Intensive global uproar has kept the technology from being field-tested or commercialized, but companies are now pushing for acceptance.

“These new patents confirm that corporations are once again actively pursuing Terminator seeds and an international ban on Terminator is urgently needed,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the new global Ban Terminator Campaign.

New fears that governments and corporations are working together to push Terminator were first confirmed in February 2005 when the Canadian government shocked the world by trying to overturn the international de facto moratorium on Terminator that exists at the United Nations under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Uproar from Canadian and international groups kept the moratorium alive. To address this crisis, the National Farmers Union (NFU) and other Canadian-based groups, including ETC Group, Inter Pres and USC Canada, initiated a global Ban Terminator Campaign (www.banterminator.org).

“The Canadian government must immediately stop promoting corporate Terminator seeds and protect the rights of farmers by banning the technology,” said Terry Boehm, Vice-President of the NFU. “Terminator is a great threat to farmers in developed and developing countries. The
Canadian government should be ashamed to be associated with this technology. Terminator is an attempt to achieve biologically what the government has been unable to do legislatively.”

“Corporate control of seeds is the only goal of Terminator,” said Eric Darier, Greenpeace Canada campaigner. “The corporate attempt to greenwash Terminator by saying it can help prevent genetic contamination is false as the technology itself is not 100% reliable, and it can nevertheless contaminate the environment and threaten biodiversity. This is an outrageous strategy to commercialize a dangerous, anti-farmer and non-ecological technology. Patents on Terminator can and must be denied for the public good.”

The Ban Terminator Campaign is urging governments around the world to establish national bans on Terminator and to ban Terminator at the major meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, March 20-31, 2006 in Curitiba, ParanĂ¡, Brazil.

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