With more than 70% of the Third World's rice and wheat crops based upon its crop breeding programmes, the world's largest network of agricultural research institutes is vowing not to useTerminator Technology (a biotech-based strategy that prevents seed from regerminating in a secondgrowing season). The decision is a slap-in-the-face to one of its major funders - the US Government, and to Monsanto Corporation - who claim their technology will help feed the hungry.
Proud Policy: RAFI has learned that a special committee of the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has agreed to advise its network of 16 International Agricultural ResearchCentres to adopt a no-use policy with respect to the Terminator Technology jointly patented by the USDepartment of Agriculture and a Monsanto subsidiary, Delta and Pine Land Seed Company. The decision, by the Genetic Resources Policy Committee of the CGIAR, will - if custom is maintained - be accepted bythe entire network at its annual gathering in Washington October 26-30. This is the first time, to RAFI'sknowledge, that the CGIAR - with an annual budget of about US$325 million in 1998, has taken such a controversial policy position and directly challenged the CGIAR's biggest long-term donor - the USGovernment.
1850 Letters: Its the right decision and it is also a courageous decision," says RAFI director, Pat Roy Mooney. "Since the patent was granted in the United States last March, it has attracted unprecedented opposition from farmers' organizations, environmentalists, and agricultural scientists. More than 1850 individuals from 54 countries have written personal protests to the US Secretary of Agriculture demandingthat the technology be banned," Mooney adds.