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    Suicide Seeds - Bombshell in Bangkok Type: News Item Date: February 11, 2005 ETC Group News Release Friday, February 11, 2005 www.etcgroup.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 11, 2005
      Suicide Seeds - Bombshell in Bangkok Type: News Item
      Date: February 11, 2005
      ETC Group
      News Release
      Friday, February 11, 2005

      Suicide Seeds - Bombshell in Bangkok
      Canadian-Led Coup to Allow Terminator Technology
      Narrowly Squelched at UN Meeting

      Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto, spoke
      today at a UN meeting in Bangkok - harshly criticizing his
      governments' efforts to promote field-testing and commercialization
      of Terminator seeds (plants genetically-modified to render seeds
      sterile at harvest time).

      "The Canadian government has acted shamefully. It is supporting a
      dangerous, anti-farmer technology that aims to eliminate the rights
      of farmers to save and re-use harvested seed," said
      Schmeiser. "Instead of representing the good will of the Canadian
      people or attending to the best interests of the Biodiversity
      Treaty, the Canadian government is fronting for the multinational
      gene giants who stand to win enormous profits from the release of
      Terminator seeds around the world."

      Schmeiser is the 74-year old Canadian farmer who was sued by
      Monsanto for patent infringement when the company's patented,
      genetically modified canola seed invaded his farm - unwanted and
      unwelcome. A victim of genetic pollution and a champion of Farmers'
      Rights, Schmeiser courageously fought Monsanto all the way to the
      Canadian Supreme Court.

      A Canadian government proposal to unleash Terminator was leaked to
      the ETC Group on the first day of a UN meeting in Bangkok, February
      7-11 (SBSTTA, the scientific advisory body to the Convention on
      Biological Diversity - CBD). The news stunned farmers'
      organizations, government delegations, and civil society worldwide.
      Ottawa's instructions to the Canadian delegation in Bangkok called
      for an all-out push for field-testing and commercialisation of
      sterile seed technologies, effectively un-doing the precautionary,
      de facto moratorium on Terminator seeds adopted by governments in
      1998. Even worse, the Canadian delegation was instructed to "block
      consensus" by governments attending the meeting if it didn't get its
      way. ETC Group has also learned that, in advance of the Bangkok
      meeting, Canadian embassies around the world asked governments to
      support a recommendation for "field testing and commercial use" of
      Terminator. Canada's blatant promotion of an anti-South technology
      does not bode well for the G8 meeting of world leaders in July in
      Scotland where Canada will propose to introduce nanotechnology on
      the G-8 agenda.

      After being swamped this week by protest emails and letters, the
      Canadian government was forced to soften its public position on
      Terminator, but it continued to press a solidly pro-Terminator view
      in the corridors and in a committee appointed to negotiate draft
      text on Terminator. (The drafting group on Terminator included
      representatives from Canada, the European Community, Peru, Tanzania,
      and the Philippines.) By Thursday morning Canada and its seed
      industry allies had drafted text that included language promoting
      Terminator field trials, capacity building for the use of Terminator
      in the developing world and specifically invited the research
      participation of "private sector entities."

      "The draft text on Terminator released Thursday morning was
      appalling - it looked like it was written by the multinational seed
      industry," said Jim Thomas of ETC Group, speaking from Bangkok. "It
      strongly reflected the Canadian government 's pro-Terminator
      position as revealed earlier this week in the leaked document."

      Suicide Seed Squad: Canada hasn't been working alone in Bangkok. The
      UN meeting was crawling with representatives from the biotech
      industry and related trade groups - including Monsanto, Delta & Pine
      Land, Crop Life International, PHARMA (pharmaceutical
      manufacturers), the International Seed Federation and more - who
      lobbied against current restrictions on the development of suicide
      seeds. New Zealand and Australia also backed the position of
      industry and Canada, while a fleet of US government representatives
      observed from the sidelines. (The US government is not a Party to
      the Biodiversity Convention.)

      Thankfully, disaster was averted due to key interventions by the
      governments of Norway, Sweden, Austria, the European Community,
      Cuba, Peru and Liberia, on behalf of the African Group.

      The good news is that these governments managed to delete the most
      offensive wording. The final text and recommendations reaffirm
      earlier decisions, amounting to a continuing, but fragile, de facto
      moratorium on Terminator. The issue now bounces to another CBD
      advisory body (the Working Group on 8(j)) in March 2006.

      Interminable Terminator? The bad news is that decisions made in
      Bangkok will allow the issue of Terminator to be re-examined and re-
      studied interminably. In ETC Group's view, the CBD continues to
      dilly-dally and delay decisions on Terminator while the industry is
      moving full-speed ahead to bring sterile seeds to market.

      "The international community needs to know that Terminator
      technology is a real and present danger. The biotech industry is
      chomping on the bit to commercialize suicide seeds. Nothing short of
      an all-out ban on Terminator will stop it from being unleashed in
      farmer's fields," said Hope Shand of ETC Group.

      For more information:
      Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Canada) etc@...:
      Hope Shand and Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Group (USA) hope@...:
      919 960-5223
      Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) silvia@...: 52 55 55 632
      Jim Thomas, ETC Group (UK) jim@...: 44 (0)7752 106806

      Note to Editors:

      Terminator technology was first developed by the US Department of
      Agriculture and the multinational seed industry to prevent farmers
      from replanting saved seed. When it came to public light in 1998
      massive public opposition forced Monsanto and Syngenta to disavow
      the technology.

      SBSTTA is the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and
      Technological Advice, a body that advises the UN Convention on
      Biological Diversity. http://www.biodiv.org

      The United Nations refers to Terminator seed technology as GURTs
      (genetic use restriction technology).

      For more information on Percy Schmeiser's court case, see:

      The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration, formerly
      RAFI, is an international civil society organization headquartered
      in Canada. The ETC group is dedicated to the advancement of cultural
      and ecological diversity and human rights. http://www.etcgroup.org
      The ETC group is also a member of the Community Biodiversity
      Development and Conservation Programme (CBDC). The CBDC is a
      collaborative experimental initiative involving civil society
      organizations and public research institutions in 14 countries. The
      CBDC is dedicated to the exploration of community-directed
      programmes to strengthen the conservation and enhancement of
      agricultural biodiversity. The CBDC website is


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