News Releases

RAFI becomes ETC Group

International Advocacy Group Changes Name, President, and Widens Agenda

ETC Group (pronounced etcetera) is the new name for the former Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI). The full legal name will be Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration . The official name change took place September 1st as the organization began its 16th year of activity.

Etcetera: We had hundreds of name suggestions, Pat Mooney, Executive Director reports, referring to the name contest launched on the RAFI website earlier this year. A surprisingly large percentage of the suggestions were actually complimentary, Hope Shand, Research Director, recalls. The most common suggestion was not to change our name at all. (The change was advised in order to secure the advocacy group s non-profit status in the United States. The ETC Group is incorporated both in Europe and in Canada, with headquarters in Winnipeg.

Terminator Takeover?

Will financial troubles put Delta & Pine Land on the auction block?

Delta & Pine Land, the maverick seed company that vows to commercialize the notorious Terminator technology, is in trouble. Delta & Pine Land announced (2001) that its president is quitting, the company will eliminate 7 percent of its work force and they are shutting down a facility in Arizona.

USDA Says Yes to Terminator

It's official. The US Department of Agriculture announced this week 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.

Rolling the Die in 'Sin City'

Self-proclaimed 'heroes' in Monte Carlo, the world's seed companies have bowed to U.S. pressure in Sun City, South Africa.

The world's leading seed trade association, ASSINSEL (International Association of Plant Breeders for the Protection of Plant Varieties, Nyon, Switzerland) may have succumbed to political pressure from the USA and four other OECD governments. The trade group has reversed its position in support of a new global treaty to safeguard the exchange of research seed for food security. The policy turnabout apparently came during the trade group's annual meeting in Sun City (popularly known as 'Sin City' because of its casinos). ASSINSEL is expected to tell governments at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome next Monday (June 25th) that it, '...does not support the current IU [International Undertaking, the treaty] text...'. The statement will come as a shock to European governments and to diplomats from Africa, Asia, and Latin America attending the Undertaking's final negotiating round June 25-30.

'Can Donorsaurs Mollify Treasury-Rexs?'

Nice try but no Cigar

The last-ever Mid-term Meeting of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has shuffled into extinction in Durban, South Africa. The fate of the outmoded Green Revolution centers - the South's most important scientific research system, remains in limbo. The 'donorsaurs' (as its 58 funding governments and foundations have been dubbed) are faced with a number of unresolved challenges.

Seeds Saved in Spoleto

Nobody's going to become a millionaire...

A rare tiff with the seed and biotech industries over intellectual property will leave the USA and Australia outside looking in on a new agricultural genetic resources treaty. Next steps: the FAO Commission in June and the World Food Summit in November?

ETC Group Censored!

ETC Group Censored! The 25th Anniversary Edition of the Top Censored Stories of the Year, 2001 features critical social issues that have been under-reported or ignored in the mainstream media. ETC Group is the recipient of two Project Censored awards, and both are featured in this book. Biopiracy in Chiapas and the efforts of local indigenous peoples to defeat the US-government funded International Cooperative Biodiversity Group (ICBG-Maya) is one of the award-winning issues identified by Project Censored in 2000.

Bracing for 'El Nuña'

Andean Groups Hopping Mad About Popping-Bean Patent

Tales from a Tribunal: 'The nuña bean is part of the Andean heritage. It is our treasure. For a company to patent a nuña cross, claiming the 'bean-nut popping bean' as an 'invention' with absolute world novelty is immoral and violates the rights of all indigenous groups,' said Elias Carreno, Coordinator of the 'Stop Biopiracy in the Andes' Campaign of the Associaci n Kechua-Aymara for Sustainable Livelihoods, ANDES (translated from Spanish).

Indigenous elders from six Andean communities that grow nuna beans met in late February for a traditional Quechua 'tribunal' to deliberate on US Patent No. 6,040,503 on the 'bean-nut popping bean' awarded to a US food processor, Appropriate Engineering and Manufacturing. The popping bean trait is found only in the Andean nuna bean, which the inventors claim in their patent. After hearing testimony from expert witnesses, the tribunal rendered their decision. Their verdict was unflinching in its criticism of intellectual property monopolies that are predatory on the knowledge, rights and resources of indigenous people.

New Terminator Patent Goes to Syngenta

Wake-Up Call for CBD's Scientific Body Meeting in Montreal

World's Largest Agrochemical and Seed Enterprise Holds Growing Arsenal of Terminator and Traitor Technologies

Syngenta, the world's largest agribusiness firm, was formed on 13 November 2000 with the merger of AstraZeneca and Novartis. The next day the company won its newest Terminator patent, US Patent 6,147,282, 'Method of controlling the fertility of a plant.' (The patent was issued to Novartis - but the company's intellectual property goes to Syngenta.) With pro forma 1999 sales of US $7 billion, Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemical enterprise, and the third largest seed corporation.

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