As buses of delegates arrived this morning for day 2 of COP8 they were met by hundreds of protesting (and dancing) farmers, peasants, Indigenous People's and NGO's twirling flags, giving speeches, chanting and rallying against Terminator Technology - many of them organised through Via Campesina - the global movement of peasants. Banners with images of coffins proclaimed that "Case by Case = Coffin by Coffin' and that 'Suicide Seeds are Homicide Seeds" .
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The Eighth Conference Of the Parties (COP8) to the Convention on Biological Diversity opened today, here in Curitiba Brazil, with an indigenous ceremony to Mother Earth, tupthumping speeches and around 3000 delegates frenetically pacing the corridors jostling and negotiating.
A 21 February 2006 news release from the Ban Terminator Campaign reported on Monsanto's revised pledge on Terminator. Whereas the company made a public commitment in 1999 not to use Terminator technology, its new pledge suggests that it would use Terminator seeds in non-food crops and does not rule out other uses in the future. Now Monsanto's Director of Public Policy has written an apology to the Ban Terminator Campaign and concedes that it didn't really mean it would consider using Terminator in non-food crops.
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 and that Monsanto seemed to be wriggling out of its 1999 pledge to abandon the technology.
Monsanto, the world's largest seed and agbiotech company, made a public promise in 1999 not to commercialize 'Terminator Technology' - plants that are genetically engineered to produce sterile seeds. Now (February 2006) Monsanto says it may develop or use the so-called 'suicide seeds' after all. The revised pledge from Monsanto now suggests that it would use Terminator seeds in non-food crops and does not rule out other uses of Terminator in the future. Monsanto's modified stance comes to light as the biotech and seed industry confront peasant and farmer movements, Indigenous peoples and their allies in an escalating battle at the United Nations over the future of Terminator.
While some ETC Group staff were in Caracas strategizing with partners to strengthen the global opposition to Terminator, others of us were subjected to the slog of the CBD meeting in Granada. And one of us was spending a few days with unlimited access to free chocolate at Swiss Re's opulent Centre for Global Dialogue near Zurich. Swiss Re, the world's largest re-insurer (an insurer of insurance companies) is concerned - no surprise - about those risks associated with nanotechnology that may result in financial losses for the company.
Not content with heading for the stars, the corporate sponsored X-Foundation that awards the X-prize has now set a bounty for commericalising the neXt frontier - the human genome. According to this article in the Wall Street Journal the X-foundation will award a new X-prize of between $5-$20 million to the first inventor of a gene sequencer that can decode the DNA of 100 people in a matter of weeks. behind it is craig venter, the genomics mogul.
Indigenous peoples were betrayed and Farmers' Rights trampled at a UN meeting this week (March 2006) when the Australian, New Zealand and Canadian governments - guided by the US government and a brazen cabal of corporate Gene Giants - took a major step to undermine the existing moratorium on Terminator technology (i.e., plants that are genetically modified to produce sterile seeds at harvest). The damaging recommendations from the meeting in Granada, Spain, now go to the upcoming 8th biennial meeting of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba, Brazil, March 20-31, 2006.
Os povos indígenas, as organizações de agricultores e os representantes da sociedade civil estão se unindo para defender uma moratória de fato das Nações Unidas sobre a tecnologia de esterilização de sementes - a moratória está atualmente sob ataque da indústria multinacional de semente e biotecnologia. Uma reunião da Comissão sobre Diversidade Biológica, onde as "sementes suicidadas" estão na agenda, acontecerá na Espanha na próxima semana. A moratória das Nações Unidas - a qual tem recomendação contra os testes a campo e a venda comercial da tecnologia de esterilização de sementes - está sob ataque. A Delta & Pine Land (uma companhia multinacional de sementes) e o Departamento de Agricultura dos Estados Unidos recentemente obtiveram novas patentes sobre o Terminator na Europa e no Canadá.
Two of us from ETC are in Granada, Spain following the Working Group on 8j the CBD body that has the mandate to recognize and protect the traditional knowledge, innovation and practices of indigenous peoples. By the end of the week, the Working Group on 8(j) will make recommendations to COP8 (Curitiba, Brazil, March) on the social and economic impacts of Terminator. Heres a brief round-up of government interventions (just the highlights) in yesterdays working group.