Minda News (Mindanao, Philippines)  [Printer-friendly version]
April 10, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: Terminator technology is a technique for
sterilizing a crops's seeds, to prevent them from being planted year
after year, thus forcing farmers to purchase new seed each year. If
adopted, terminator technology would transfer control of the world's
food crops from local farmers to corporations like Monsanto, the St.
Louis chemical giant.]

By Walter I. Balane

[Rachel's introduction: The U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity
recently upheld a ban on terminator technology. Developed with
taxpayer money by the U.S. Department of Agriculture but patented by a
seed company now owned by Monsanto, terminator technology is a genetic
technique that renders seeds sterile after one or two years. This
assures that Monsanto's seeds cannot be illegally saved and re-planted
year after year.

With terminator technology, anyone who becomes dependent upon
Monsanto's genetically-modified seed will have to come back to
Monsanto each year to purchase new seed. By this means, Monsanto will
gain a substantial measure of control over the food supply of any
nation that widely adopts the company's genetic technologies. It is
clear that Monsanto's goal is effective control of many of the staple
crops that presently feed the world. --RPR editors]

DAVAO CITY, Philippines -- An agricultural research group called the
decision of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN-
CBD) to maintain the moratorium imposed on the Genetic Use Restriction
Technologies (GURTS) terminator technology a victory to the small

"It landmarks the victory of small farmers," the Southeast Asia
Regional Initiative for Community Empowerment (Searice) said in a
press statement to MindaNews.

The Conference of the Parties of the CBD, in its 8th Meeting in
Curitiba, Brazil from March 20 -- 31, reaffirmed the moratorium on
GURTS as contained in an earlier decision of the same body.

CBD rejected the proposal for a "case-by-case" risk assessment clause
proposed by Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Indigenous groups, peasant and farmers movements, and civil society
groups who staged protests during the 2-week CBD meeting criticized
the proposal as a move to weaken the de facto moratorium.

Searice believed that the clause will lead to field testing and
eventual commercialization of the terminator technology.

"Even though the moratorium was reaffirmed, we must not stop
campaigning against this technology. The battle has not ended. The
companies, backed by the US government and biotech corporations that
own the patent of this technology will not stop in finding ways to
lobby and commercialize the terminator technology. Let us remain
vigilant and observant", said Vincent Malasador, Searice technical

In December 2005, during the "Go Organic Mindanao" forum in Davao
City, around 200 Mindanawons from different sectors sought a total
phaseout of synthetic agricultural inputs in the country by 2015 and a
ban on field releases of all genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in
food and agriculture.

Mindanao has become a haven for high value export crops with the
spread of banana, pineapple and other mono-crop plantations.

After the government approved the release of GMOs in the country in
2003, the anti-GMO movement has "changed strategy."

Roberto Verzola, sustainable agriculture campaigner of Philippine
Greens, told participants to the forum that promoting sustainable
organic agriculture is the new strategy in campaigning against GMOs.

"The promotion of sustainable organic agriculture is a positive step
towards attaining environmental sustainability," according to a
covenant signed in the forum.

Also, the Philippine Senate has to ratify immediately the Cartagena
Protocol, a protective instrument against the damaging effects of
genetic engineering and GMOs which has been signed by 120 countries as
of 2003.

The forum, which discussed GURTS, likewise called for the
implementation of the precautionary principle in dealing with
synthetic technology.

The forum was organized to help revitalize debates on genetic
engineering and at the same time strengthen and promote organic
agriculture as an alternative.

Farmers who attended the forum considered the technology unfair,
selfish and beneficial only to the interests of hybrid seed companies.

Copyright Copyright 2006 MindaNews