Monday, March 13, 2006



Dear Prime Minister Harper,

Terminator technology (Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURTS) concerns me. I am emailing you with the hope that you will uphold the United Nations moratorium on Terminator technology. Please take a strong position against Terminator technology at the meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, 8th Conference of the Parties in Curitiba Brazil March 20-31.

Terminator technology, i.e., genetically engineered seed sterilization technology, has been universally condemned because of its serious potential impacts for farmers, Indigenous peoples, food security and biodiversity. The technology offers no agronomic benefits. Instead, Terminator is designed to maximize industry profits by preventing farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed. The technology threatens the livelihoods of Canadian farmers and the (more than) 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seeds as their primary seed source.

Seed and biotechnology corporations are promoting the false argument that Terminator could be used to stop unwanted genetic pollution from industry’s genetically modified crops. However, Terminator technology is too complex and unreliable to prevent the movement of genes. If commercialized under the guise of a “biosafety” tool to prevent gene flow, Terminator genes could actually introduce new biosafety hazards since they can spread to neighbouring crops and wild relatives via pollen in the first generation. The spreading of sterile genes could result in catastrophe for farmers and agricultural biodiversity. Farmers who save and re-plant seeds contaminated by Terminator genes may find that these seeds do not germinate, potentially translating into significant yield losses.

I am particularly concerned because past Canadian government delegations to UN meetings have tried to undermine the UN Decision V/5 that recommends governments not approve Terminator for field-testing and commercial use. Most recently, Canada supported the inclusion of language of “case-by-case risk assessment” which is a serious threat to the moratorium.

I urge the Conservative Government to respond to the concerns of Canadians and ensure the continued reaffirmation of Decision V/5 at the UN CBD.

I ask for your support to ensure that Canada will not approve the use of Terminator seeds. I urge you to work towards establishing a national ban on Terminator.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please take these steps to prohibit Terminator in order to protect farmer livelihoods, biodiversity and food security in our country and in countries across the world.


[Insert Your Name Here]


Minister of Agriculture
The Honourable Chuck Strahl

Minister of the Environment
The Honourable Rona Ambrose


Biopolitical said...

Why does Terminator "threaten the livelihoods of Canadian farmers and the (more than) 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seeds as their primary seed source"? It seems to me that nobody would force anyone to buy Terminator seeds.

Timothy said...

People are forced to buy genetically modified seed in this way: they are given no other options. This situation, of having no choice, is common in Canada and (among other places) the Phillipines. A farmer can not buy what she or he is not given access to.

Biopolitical said...

Why don't they have other options? If farmers wish to buy non-GM seeds, I guess someone would be very happy to profit from selling them.

Timothy said...

For example, in Canada, if a farmer wants to plant a particular variety of crop plant, often the only seed available is genetically engineered. It is not that the farmers want to plant GE, they don't have a choice.