GENET archive


2-Plants: Monsanto may commercialize Terminator

                                 PART I
------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Monsanto May Commercialize Terminator
SOURCE: Ban Terminator
DATE:   21 Feb 2006

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Monsanto May Commercialize Terminator

Biotech Giant Revises Pledge on Sterile Seed Technology as Global
Alliance Calls for a Ban.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed and agbiotech company, made a public
promise in 1999 not to commercialize 'Terminator Technology' - plants
that are genetically engineered to produce sterile seeds. Now Monsanto
says it may develop or use the so-called 'suicide seeds' after all. The
revised pledge from Monsanto now suggests that it would use Terminator
seeds in non-food crops and does not rule out other uses of Terminator in
the future. (1) Monsanto's modified stance comes to light as the biotech
and seed industry confront peasant and farmer movements, Indigenous
peoples and their allies in an escalating battle at the United Nations
over the future of Terminator.

In 2000 the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
adopted a de facto moratorium on sterile seed technologies, also known as
Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs). But at next month's high-
level meeting of the CBD in Curitiba, Brazil (20-31 March 2006) the
biotechnology industry will intensify its push to undermine the six-year
old de facto moratorium.

In response, over 300 organizations today declared their support for a
global ban on Terminator Technology, asserting that sterile seeds
threaten biodiversity and will destroy the livelihoods and cultures of
the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed.

"The world's farmers and Indigenous peoples cannot trust Monsanto," said
Alejandro Argumedo from Asociacion ANDES - Potato Park in Cusco, Peru
"Monsanto's broken promise is a deadly betrayal because Indigenous
peoples and farmers depend on seed saving for food security and self-

Terminator technology was first developed by the United States Department
of Agriculture and US seed company Delta & Pine Land to prevent farmers
from saving and re-using harvested seed, forcing them to buy new seeds
each season. (2)

In October 1999, in response to worldwide opposition, Monsanto publicly
pledged not to commercialize Terminator seeds. Then-CEO, Robert Shapiro,
wrote an open letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, stating, "I am
writing to let you know that we are making a public commitment not to
commercialize sterile seed technologies, such as the one dubbed 'Terminator.'"

Now, Monsanto has revised its commitment, pledging to keep Terminator
only out of food crops - opening the door to the use of Terminator in
cotton, tobacco, pharmaceutical crops and grass with sterility genes.
Referring to new versions of GURTs, Monsanto's 'pledge' now says,
"Monsanto does not rule out the potential development and use of one

of these technologies in the future. The company will continue to study
the risks and benefits of this technology on a case-by-case basis."

"Monsanto's revised pledge resonates closely with the actions of a few
rich governments that have been promoting Terminator at the UN recently,"
points out Chee Yoke Ling of Third World Network. "It looks like Monsanto
and other corporations are behind the strategy to unleash Terminator at
the upcoming meetings of the CBD".

Monsanto's new stance on Terminator is part of an industry-wide attempt
to undermine the de facto moratorium. In the past year, government
delegates from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, working hand in hand
with the biotech industry, have used UN meetings to introduce new text
that will be considered at next month's CBD meeting in Brazil. (3) This
text recommends Terminator technologies be approached on a "case by case
risk assessment" basis - echoing the language of Monsanto's new 'pledge.'
The intention behind the 'case by case' approach is to regulate
Terminator just like any other genetically modified crop. This would
ignore the uniquely devastating societal impacts of genetic seed sterility.

"Terminator is a direct assault on farmers, Indigenous cultures and on
the food sovereignty and well-being of all rural people, primarily the
very poorest," said Chukki Nanjundaswamy of India from La Via Campesina,
an organization representing tens of millions of peasant farmers
worldwide. "If Monsanto bullies the UN into allowing 'case by case'
assessment of Terminator, it means farmers will be carried off the land
coffin by coffin."

"These companies have a clear and simple vision that nothing should be
grown without a license from Monsanto and a few other masters of
sterility and reproduction," explains Benny Haerlin of Greenpeace
International. "They pursue this strategy step by step or 'case by case'
as they now call it. If governments at the CBD give in to Monsanto and
erode the Terminator moratorium we will all have to pay the bill tomorrow
and the collateral damage will be the integrity and fertility of nature."

The Ban Terminator campaign today announces the names of over 300
organizations worldwide that are demanding a ban on Terminator
technology. The list of organizations is available at http:// These organizations are from every
region of the world and include peasant farmer movements and farm
organizations, Indigenous peoples organizations, civil society and
environmental groups, unions, faith communities, international
development organizations, women's movements, consumer organizations and
youth networks.

"We are particularly alarmed that Monsanto's edited pledge no longer
rejects commercialization of this dangerous technology." said Lucy
Sharratt of the international Ban Terminator Campaign. "We are calling on
national governments to dismiss Monsanto's tactic in favour of an all-out
ban on Terminator. We invite all civil society and social movements to
join with us for the battle against Terminator next month in Brazil."

For more information contact:
Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator,
Ban Terminator Campaign
+1 613 252 2147 mobile
+ 1 613 241 2267
Pat Mooney, ETC Group
Jim Thomas, ETC Group
+1 613 241 2267

Hope Shand, ETC Group.
+1 919 9605767

Alejandro Argumedo,
Asociacion ANDES.
+51 84 245021

Chee Yoke Ling, Third World Network
Lim Li Lin, Third World Network.
+603 23002585

Chukki Nanjundaswamy,
La Via Campesina.
+91 80 28604737

Greenpeace International:
Benedict Haerlin,
Greenpeace International.

Notes to editors:

1. Monsanto's new pledge on Terminator and GURTs is online at
A full copy of their new and old pledges is available at

2. Delta and Pine Land refer to Terminator as Technology Protection
System (TPS). Terminator is currently being tested in greenhouses and
Delta and Pine Land vowed to commercialize it within the next few years.

3. In February 2005 at a meeting of the CBD's Subsidiary Body on
Scientific, Technical and Technological Assessment (SBSTTA) in Bangkok,
Canadian government delegates made a surprise attempt to overturn the
moratorium by allowing Terminator to be field tested and commercialized.
Last month, at another preparatory meeting in Granada, Spain (known as
the Working Group on 8j), the Australian government, coached by a US
State Department representative, also attacked the moratorium. See ETC
Group news release on 27th January 2006: "Granada's Grim Sowers Plow up
the moratorium on Terminator" available at 	

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

TITLE:  Terminator Technology Still Does Not Even Exist
SOURCE: Monsanto News
DATE:   21 Feb 2006

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Terminator Technology Still Does Not Even Exist

In response to media enquiries (following unsubstantiated allegations
that sterile seed technology could be commercialised), Monsanto in the UK
responded: "Research on this technology remains incomplete, as it was in
1999 and any development still does not involve us; likewise, its
potential future commercialisation is not part of our plans either."

Page 29 of our 2005 Pledge Report
- page=31
includes confirmation that we stand by our 1999 commitment not to
commercialise sterile seed technologies in food crops, and how we
"constantly re-evaluate this stance as the technology develops" THIS IS
"We are not currently investing resources to develop these technologies,
but we do not rule out their future development and use for gene
protection or their possible agronomic benefits"

Monsanto UK's Director of Corporate Affairs, Tony Combes commented "We
have NOT changed our policy and it is nonsense to suggest farmers in
developing countries cannot trust us. Over 8 million did last year, along
with other biotech companies, and that number increases each year as
millions of growers in developing countries realise the environmental,
economic and personal benefits of this scale-neutral technology on their
land. If you don't plant GM seeds, you don't pay anything towards the
technology. It is bunkum and balderdash to suggest otherwise"

Click here for Monsanto's 4th October 1999 commitment not to
commercialise the technology

Click here for Monsanto 2005 Pledge Report


European NGO Network on Genetic Engineering

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