GENET archive


2-Plants: On the Terminator discussions at the recent CBD meetings

                                 PART I
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TITLE:  Granada's Grim Sowers Plow up Moratorium on Terminator, Clear the
        Path for its Approval at UN
SOURCE: Ban Terminator Campaign and ETC Group
DATE:   27 Jan 2006

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Strategy to Approve Terminator Seeds is Confirmed at UN meeting
Industry-Government Strategy to Approve Terminator Seeds is Confirmed at
UN meeting

January 2006 Please distribute widely -
The industry-governments strategy to end the existing de facto
moratorium on Terminator technology at the United Nations has been
confirmed by the actions of Australia, with support from New Zealand and
Canada, at a meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)  in
Granada Spain January 23-27. Intensified action from every region of the
world is now needed to ensure that the moratorium can be upheld and
strengthened at the major UN meeting in March in Brazil (March 20-31).
Please take action with the International Ban Terminator Campaign.

- Please endorse the campaign - visit to sign your
group in time for the March meeting of the CBD

- Take action nationally to pressure your government - for more
information see


Ban Terminator Campaign and ETC Group
News Release 27 January 2006

Granada's Grim Sowers Plow up Moratorium on Terminator, Clear the Path
for its Approval at UN
Terminator Opponents Prepare for Battle at COP8 in Curitiba, Brazil
March 20-31, 2006

Indigenous peoples were betrayed and Farmers' Rights trampled at a UN
meeting this week when the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian
governments - guided by the US government and a brazen cabal of
corporate Gene Giants - took a major step to undermine the existing
moratorium on Terminator technology (i.e., plants that are genetically
modified to produce sterile seeds at harvest). The damaging
recommendations from the meeting in Granada, Spain, now go to the
upcoming 8th biennial meeting of the UN's Convention on Biological
Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba, Brazil, March 20-31.

The CBD's "Working Group on Article 8(j)" that met in Granada this week
was established to protect the traditional knowledge, innovation and
practices of Indigenous peoples and peasant farmers. Civil society
groups and Indigenous peoples watched in disbelief however as
governments ignored the profoundly negative social, economic and
environmental impacts of "suicide seeds" highlighted in numerous CBD
studies as well as in official submissions from Indigenous peoples and
farmers' organizations. The outcome now threatens biodiversity and the
future of seed-saving and locally adapted agriculture worldwide.

"Terminator poses a threat to our welfare and food sovereignty and
constitutes a violation of our human right of self-determination," said
Mariano Marcos Terena of Brazil on behalf of the International
Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.

Although the meeting "reaffirmed" the fragile UN moratorium on
Terminator, new recommendations adopted in Granada now may be used to
block the CBD's precautionary approach when governments meet in March in
Brazil. Not only did the meeting fail to condemn Terminator as immoral
and anti-farmer, Australia and the United States falsely claimed that
Terminator, which creates sterility, would "increase productivity."

With a US government official consulting at her side, the Australian
negotiator insisted on deleting reference to the "precautionary
approach" and used this as a bargaining chip to win controversial
wording for a "case-by-case risk assessment" of Terminator. "The new
reference to case-by-case assessment is shocking and extremely damaging
because it suggests that national regulatory review of Terminator is
possible - it undermines the CBD moratorium, opening the door to
Terminator approval," warns Hope Shand of ETC Group.

"Australia's brazen move confirms that an alarming government-
industry strategy is in play to overturn the UN moratorium on
Terminator," said Lucy Sharratt of the Ban Terminator Campaign. "The
process and outcome dismiss the contributions of Indigenous peoples and
local communities."

Despite the unscrupulous push by a handful of rich countries to put
industry profits before Farmers' Rights, the majority of governments at
the meeting remain solidly opposed to Terminator technology and
committed to the existing moratorium. In her welcoming address the
Spanish Minister of the Environment acknowledged the dangers of
Terminator technology. During the meeting, the African Group, Egypt and
the Philippines made impassioned speeches about the potentially
devastating impacts of Terminator on biodiversity and food security and
the need for national bans. Norway, Pakistan, Kenya and the European
Union defended the existing moratorium. India and Brazil both referred
to their national laws prohibiting genetic seed sterilization
technology. Despite this strong opposition to Terminator, Australia's
extreme position and its determination to block consensus left
governments little room to negotiate.

In the Halls of Shame:  Despite public pledges not to develop Terminator
technology, Gene Giants Syngenta and Monsanto lobbied aggressively on
Terminator throughout the week. Harry Collins of Delta and Pine Land,
the world's largest cotton seed company which is now testing Terminator
plants in greenhouses, attended under the auspices of the International
Seed Federation. Monsanto's Roger Krueger moonlighted as a
representative from the International Chamber of Commerce. They were
joined in the corridors by CropLife International, a pesticide lobby
group representing the "plant science industry."

Outside the UN meeting Spanish people of all ages gathered to remind
governments of the strong public resistance to Terminator technology.
Ecologistas en Accion organized public events, street protests, and
educational street displays throughout the week as part of the
International Ban Terminator Campaign (
When news of the Granada outcome reached the plenary of the World Social
Forum in Caracas Venezuela last night there were shouts of anger from
thousands of assembled farmers.

"Allowing 'case by case' approval of Terminator means a slow death for
farmers 'coffin-by-coffin' " explained Silvia Ribeiro of ETC Group
speaking in Caracas.

The Ban Terminator Campaign will work with groups and movements across
the world to strengthen the global resistance to stop Terminator. The
fight now moves to the COP8 meeting in Brazil March 20-31.

A transcript of the Draft Recommendation submitted by the Working Group
can be read on ETC Group's web site at:

                                 PART II
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Comments on: ?Potential impacts of genetic use restriction
        technologies (GURTs) on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local
        communities and Farmers' Rights"
DATE:   20 Jan 2006

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Comments on: ?Potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies
(GURTs) on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities and
Farmers' Rights"
(Reference SCBD/STTM/MG/ia/32371 - UNEP/CBD/COP/6/INF/8)

Most of the possible negative impacts of GURTs are already listed in
the  Annex I ( point 1) of UNEP/CBD/COP/6/INF/8 (from the 28th of Febr.

From our point of view, there are no reasons to see positive aspects of
GURTs concerning indigenous and local communities and their
developmental needs (like in Annex I - point 2). From the perspective of
the livelihoods of indigenous and local people it would be even
preferable to strengthen the critical aspects in this Document.

Additionally we think, the mentioned Document has some deficits
concerning the political impacts between those who are in control of the
GURTs ( and who have the power and knowledge) and those who are using
GURTs consciously or unconsciously (who do not have the knowledge and power).

In this respect we want to stress following issues:

Especially V-GURTs are likely to harm indigenous and local communities

Usually most of the possible impacts of GURTs are analysed on a static
level. But we have to notice that the growth of private breeding sector
and the expansion of the formal breeding system, especially the
development of huge private breeding companies, is extremely connected
with the discovery of high yielding corn hybrids. This means we have to
think more in dynamic scenarios, because GURTs have something in common
with corn hybrids, can even create more excludability and thus have a
driving impact on business.

It is likely that together with GURTs the formal seed sector will expand
and grow much faster and that the monopoly (or monopoly like) structures
of GURTs- or TERMINATOR-breeding will see a boom worldwide, if there
won't be any opposition and political counterbalancing.

So, if we accept this dynamic scenario, we have to ask, what is going to
happen in food security, if more than 50 % of the world food is produced
by a system creating mostly sterile seeds protected by V-GURTs. Even if
the system creates investments and economic growth from the perspective
of industrialized countries, we should keep in mind that such a system
is going to include huge risks and costs at the expense of those who do
not have the knowledge or who do not have the money to participate in
high-tech markets. Even for industrialized countries with highly
developed farm and food sectors this would create a very instable system.

But in developing countries most of the risks of seed infertility will
be translated into direct harm.

In this respect some of the crucial questions are: What is going to
happen with those poor and stressed farmers, who are not able to safe
seeds for the next season, and what is the effect, if they access the
normal grain and feed market for their seeds (in some areas over 20 % of
farmers even today  -  Visser et al 2001)? How should poor people find
ways to access viable seeds after crop losses without money and usually
with poor knowledge about the technology, and who will be going to
support these people in the future to keep up their seed system, if the
public system is not working very well? If western farm technologies and
systems could not solve the problems of developing countries till now,
how could these strategies do it together with GURTs, if farmers and
local communities are going to loose the fertility of their seeds and
are not able to participate in the formal seed market system?

As we are not able to solve these socio-economic problems with high-tech
approaches, it is very likely that the introduction of V-GURTs will have
an enormous negative impact on the poor subsistence farmers in
developing countries and will enhance the likelihood of local and global
food crises. Especially local and indigenous communities will be
stricken very hard and most times they will be driven out of their land
and add to the mass of landless farmers.

GURTs have a high technological risk - indigenous and local communities
usually do not have the means of control and counterbalancing possible harms

If GURTs are used in a wide range, the chain of "breeding -
propagation / seed production - food" will be highly vulnerable and
risks in global food production are elevated (food security). Technical
mistakes within this chain could have an enormous negative impact on
food security in industrialized as well as in developing countries. But
the capacity to counteract such risks will be much lower in developing
countries, because they usually do not have means at all or not the
right means to control the technology and to deal with possibilities of
high-tech harm. Thus indigenous and local societies especially in
developing countries could be hit very hard by such possible harms, if
their local seed production got contaminated by GURTs or if they already
got dependent on GURTs.

GURTs have a high social and political risk - just think of war,
terrorism, local conflicts or unjust dependencies

GURTs include an enormous power of controlling food production. This
creates an enormous dependency between those who are controlling the
technology and those who are using the technology. They can be used as
parts of a bio-warfare and the technology could be misused by terrorism
or misused within local conflicts. This technology together with some
unfair business practices even could be misused to strengthen
traditional asymmetric dependencies or to create new such dependencies.
Indigenous and local communities in developing countries, since they do
not have the knowledge about these technologies and/or a lot of these
people still are illiterate, could be hurt most by the misuse of these

Dr. Josef Hoppichler
BA für Bergbauernfragen

Visser, B., D. Eaton, N. Louwaars and I.M. Van der Meer, 2001. Potential
impacts of genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs) on
agrobiodiversity and agricultural production systems. FAO, Rome, Italy


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

Hartmut MEYER (Mr)
In den Steinäckern 13
D - 38116 Braunschweig

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