No to suicide seeds
This week, as we celebrate World Food Day 2013 – whose theme is "sustainable food systems for food security and nutrition” – a serious threat to food sovereignty and food and nutrition security in Brazil has come to light. A bill, ( PL ) No. 268/2007 filed by Rep. Eduardo Sciarra - PSD / PR, allows exemptions to the ban on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs, commonly referred to as Terminator) imposed by Brazil’s Biosecurity Law and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. If passed, this bill will allow the production and marketing of GM “suicide” seeds – seeds genetically engineered to be sterile in the second generation – forcing farmers to buy new seeds for every planting cycle.
Even worse is the potential for suicide seeds to contaminate farmers’ seeds that were not engineered for sterility. It is crucially important to send a strong message to the members of the Commission on Constitution and Justice (CCJ) tasked with assessing the bill’s constitutionality, urging them to reject the bill. This will be discussed again next Wednesday, October 16th. Individuals and organizations can sign the letter, which will be delivered to the members of the Commission, on change.org.
To the of the Commission on Constitution and Justice:
We, the undersigned, hereby express our opposition to Bill No. 268/2007 filed by Rep. Eduardo Sciarra, which allows for "flexibility " related to the ban on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs, commonly referred to as Terminator) enacted by the Brazilian Biosafety Law and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The proposed legislation would allow the use of GURTs in two contexts: a) bioreactors crops (e.g., plants engineered to produce industrial chemicals or pharmaceuticals) that can multiply vegetatively (such as sugarcane, cassava, potatoes) and b ) when they are used as a “biosecurity” measure in an attempt to prevent contamination of conventional or organic crops. If Brazil allows the use of Terminator seeds, it will take away the rights of farmers to conserve and multiply their own seed, forcing them to buy new seed every planting cycle. The use of Terminator in the context of bioreactor crops and/or biosecurity could pave the way for the introduction of suicide genes in all crop seed, ensuring market monopoly among a half-dozen companies and seriously compromising national sovereignty. Furthermore, the sterility trait produced by GURTS is triggered by the application of an agrochemical, resulting in a large economic impact for farmers and biodiversity. Precisely because of these and other risks to biodiversity, and the violation of the rights of peasants and farmers, the United Nations, in 2000, established an international moratorium against both experimental and commercial use of GURTs.
If the Commission approves the bill, Brazil would not only be on the road to changing its national law, with unacceptable consequences for farmers and biodiversity, but will also be unilaterally violating an international agreement, and opening the door for other countries to be pressured by companies to apply this technology. Therefore, the responsibility of the Commission is to reject this bill, not only because it undermines an international agreement signed by Brazil as part of the global community, but also because it is a threat to farmers and food security and agricultural biodiversity worldwide.