The World Council of Churches  [Printer-friendly version]
May 15, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The General Secretary of the World Council of
Churches has issued a strong condemnation of terminator seeds and
has called on churches and ecumenical partners to take action to stop
the technology. The Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia warns that sterile seed
technology would increase economic injustice all over the
world:"Applying technology to design sterile seeds turns life, which
is a gift from God, into a commodity."]

The general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Rev. Dr Samuel
Kobia, called upon churches and ecumenical partners to take action to
stop "terminator technology." "Applying technology to design sterile
seeds turns life, which is a gift from God, into a commodity.
Preventing farmers from re-planting saved seed will increase economic
injustice all over the world and add to the burdens of those already
living in hardship," stated Kobia.

He underlined: "Terminator technology locates food sovereignty, once
the very backbone of community, in the hands of technologists and
large corporations. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates
that 1.4 billion people depend on farmer-saved seed as their primary
seed source. All Christians pray "Give us this day our daily bread"
(Matt 6:11). That this profoundly material request appears in this
profoundly spiritual prayer, signals for us the centrality of food in
our lives, as well as the indivisibility of the material and spiritual
in the eyes of God. It is of great concern to me that life itself is
now often thought of and used as a commodity." Governments upheld the
international de facto moratorium on "Terminator technology," which
refers to plants that are genetically engineered to produce sterile
seeds, about a month ago at the Eighth meeting of the Conference of
the Parties (COP8) to the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity
(CBD) held in Curitiba, Brazil. They finally gave in to strong
pressure by social movements and civil society groups and a number of
governmental delegations supporting their claims. The UN conference
was held in Brazil only weeks after the WCC's 9th General Assembly in
Porto Alegre, Brazil, where delegates urged the WCC to respond to the
challenges posed by science and technology.

The call for a ban on sterile-seed technology had taken center stage
at the two-week meeting in Curitiba. Thousands of peasant farmers,
including those from Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (Movimento Sem
Terra), protested daily outside the conference center to demand a ban.
The women of the international peasant farmers' organization Via
Campesina staged a silent protest inside the plenary hall on 23 March,
holding hand-painted signs with the words "Terminar Terminator con la
Vida" ("Terminate Terminator with Life").

Brazil and India have already passed national laws to ban Terminator -
and other campaigns to prevent commercialization of seed sterilization
technologies will follow in various countries around the world.
Protestant churches in Germany lobby for a national law and European
Union legislation to ban terminator seeds. They also argue against the
patenting of terminator technologies.

"Though the international moratorium on Terminator was upheld at COP8,
the battle to block the technology is now moving to the national
level. This requires us to alert our member churches and ecumenical
partners to be vigilant in their respective countries," explains the
WCC general secretary who is confident that this concern unites
Christian churches and people of other faiths who care for small scale
farmers and God's creation.