It's official. The US Department of Agriculture announced this week (December 2005) that it has concluded negotiations to license the notorious Terminator technology to its seed industry partner, Delta & Pine Land (D&PL). As a result of joint research, the USDA and D&PL are co-owners of three patents on the controversial technology that genetically modifies plants to produce sterile seeds, preventing farmers from re-using harvested seed. A licensing agreement establishes the terms and conditions under which a party can use a patented technology. Although many of the Gene Giants hold patents on Terminator technology, D&PL is the only company that has publicly declared its intention to commercialize Terminator seeds. (for details, see '2001: A Seed Odyssey' RAFI Communique, January/February 2001, www.rafi.org)
'USDA's decision to license Terminator flies in the face of international public opinion and betrays the public trust,' said Hope Shand, Research Director of RAFI. 'Terminator technology has been universally condemned by civil society; banned by international agricultural research institutes, censured by United Nations bodies, even shunned by Monsanto, and yet the US government has officially sanctioned commercialization of the technology by licensing it to one of the world's largest seed companies,' explains Shand.
'USDA's role in developing Terminator seeds is a disgraceful example of corporate welfare involving a technology that is bad for farmers, dangerous for the environment and disastrous for world food security,' adds Silvia Ribeiro of RAFI. Terminator has been universally opposed as an immoral technology because over 1.4 billion people, primarily poor farmers, depend on farm-saved seeds as their primary seed source.