Yesterday the Ban Terminator Campaign announced that over 300 organisations have so far signed up calling for a ban on the sterile seed technology known as Terminator (in fact the number is now closer to 400 organisations and rising rapidly!). We also uncovered that Monsanto have been re-editing their pledge not to commericalise Terminator from "We won't commercialise it" to " we won't commercialise it in food crops" which leaves us wondering just which non-food crops Monsanto wants to sterilise: cotton? grass? trees? flax?
Monsanto doesn't seem very pleased to be outed in this way, despite the fact that they have been advocating for Terminator at UN meetings for the past 3 years. Tony Combes of Monsanto UK for example wouldn't have it said that Terminator-enabled crops will affect the livelihoods of small and indiginous farmers. In a statement to press he said " If you don't plant GM seeds, you don't pay anything towards the technology. it is bunkum and balderdash to suggest otherwise"
We disagree. In a highly concentrated seed market where Monsanto and the other gene giants control seed sales it may be that eventually farmers have no choice but to plant GM crops. Thye will then be forced to pay royalties and to suffer seed sterility, Indeed a report today from the Guardian Newspaper illustrates Monsanto's is already engineering a situation rather like this in Argentina.
But what about that gramatically modified pledge of Monsanto's. I called up Tony Combes and asked him why the Terminator pledge had now changed to only cover 'food crops'. "Back in those days", he explained airily, referring to 1999 when the original pledge was made "there only were food crops". What? Like cotton? - Monsanto's first GM crop?
Bunkum and balderdash indeed.