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Terminator is back

30th January 2006

The overwhelmingly discredited ‘Terminator’ technology is being relaunched by biotech companies. Terminator technology, patented in the US in 1998, sterilises seeds in order to force farmers and gardeners to buy new seed each season. If permitted, it will only increase the biotech companies’ monopoly control over seeds.

Terminator technology genetically modifies plants so they produce only sterile seeds. There is currently an international de facto moratorium on the field testing and commercialisation of Terminator technology, agreed in 2000 by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). If this moratorium gets overturned and Terminator is allowed, seed saving and food security will be threatened and GM contamination of our food is likely to increase.

To prevent this happening, development, farming and environment groups are campaigning to ensure that the UK and other governments do not allow the moratorium to be overturned at the CBD Conference taking place in Brazil in March this year.

In 2005, the Canadian Government initiated the attempt to overturn the moratorium. Their efforts will be built upon by other countries. Also in 2005, new patents for Terminator technology were granted in Europe and Canada, and applications have been submitted in China, Japan and Brazil.

The potential impacts of this technology still remain as clear as ever.

The main impact will be to prevent farmers and gardeners around the world saving their own seed. Almost 1˝ billion farmers worldwide depend on saved seeds and have established exchange systems within their communities. This ensures seed security appropriate to local conditions and is, of course, a free resource.

Terminator technology will affect farmers' livelihoods, food security and the environment, and consumer choice will be further eroded as more GM crops are grown. The UK Government is now in the position where it needs to decide whether to put its efforts into supporting a continuance of the current de facto moratorium.

Readers who want to take action on this issue can write to their MP asking them to sign the Early Day Motion 1300 'Terminator Technology'.

Letters can also be sent to: Margaret Beckett at Defra, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, London SW1P 3JR, to ask the UK Government to oppose any attempt to lift the CBD de facto moratorium on Terminator technology, at the meeting in March 2006.

Useful resources

You can get copies of a leaflet, with full information about the campaign and actions, including a model letter, at www.eco-matters.org or by emailing environment@progressio.org.uk

For more details, visit the International Ban Terminator website: www.banterminator.org