A group of approximately 40 women from the Via Campesina movement - mostly from across the Americas - staged a dignified protest against Terminator on the floor of the negotiations at COP 8 today. They received applause from delegates and the Chair of the meeting recognized their protest and remarked that it was "a heartfelt protest that many of us feel sympathy with.. This reminds us that we are citizens of the world not just of countries". He said the protest will help the discussion on GURTS later in the day.
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So today is the day that Terminator is expected to come up in the Working Group and expectation and rumour is running high. Over 150 people are wandering around the conference room wearing distinctive white T-shirts which declare that suicide seeds are homicide seeds , there are posters and stickers, flags and placards - the front page of the Eco - the daily new service here - reminds Canada, New Zealand and Australia that 'The world is watching'. Governments are firming up their positions, issuing advance statements. We too are giving press conferences and interviews
Curitiba, Brazil. After a week that has seen a worldwide mobilisation against Terminator technology, the issue of Suicide Seeds is about to hit the negotiating floor of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Curitiba, Brazil (March 2006). Known to the CBD as GURTs (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies), Terminator crops are genetically modified to create sterile seeds at harvest so that farmers must buy new seed every season. Today (22.03.2006) the Ban Terminator Campaign, a global coalition of over 500 organisations, released new financial calculations indicating that Terminator seeds will impose a burden of billions of extra dollars in seed costs on some of the world's poorest nations.
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" .
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.