The USDA Grants Delta & Pine Land a License to Kill (Seeds)
see other terminator
technology articles 1, 2,
3 & 5
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has concluded
negotiations to license Terminator Technology to its co-patent-holder
Delta and Pine Land. This paves the way for the commercialization
of the technology any time after Jan. 1, 2003, most probably in
2004 or 2005 given the current state of research and development
D&PL, the world’s largest cotton seed company and ninth
largest seed company, is the only one that has publicly declared
its intention to commercialize Terminator seeds. The USDA and D&PL,
as a result of joint research, are co-owners of three Terminator
Ignoring an outcry of public opposition to the
technology as well as the recommendations of many members of the
Biotech Advisory Committee, the USDA steadfastly refused to abandon
its patents or to suspend all further research on genetic seed sterilization,
instead concluding that Terminator “is a valuable technology”
and even promoting it as a “green” technology that will
prevent gene flow from transgenic plants.
Terminator technology, by creating genetically
altered varieties that produce sterile seed, would make seed-saving
by farmers who use the altered seeds impossible. It will be targeted
largely at major crop commodities such as soybeans, rice and wheat
that have not been successfully hybridized on a commercial scale.
An estimated 1.4 billion people, mostly poor farmers in third world
countries, depend primarily on farm-saved seed.
Last year the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization’s Panel on Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food
and Agriculture concluded that Terminator seeds are unethical.
All of the major seed industry behemoths, including
Monsanto, Novartis, AstraZeneca, DuPont, BASF, and Aventis, have
similar patents in the works. The next generation of technologies
will create packages which, induced by proprietary chemical activators,
can control multiple factors such as acceleration or stunting of
plant growth, reproductive viability, and disease or herbicide resistance.
The aim of the gene giants is not just to discourage seed saving
or replanting but to make farmers totally dependent on the seed
company, and ultimately to control the entire food system from seed
to table. Terminator is only the most visible and dramatic manifestation
of the potential impact of genetic engineering on our lives.