May 28, 1999

Call for "Seed Sovereignty" ban on Terminator patents

Letters to 140 national governments call for direct action as campaign to ban Terminator The technology enters new phase. Are patent-holders waving a white flag?

Launching a new phase in the campaign to 'Terminate Terminator (seed sterilization) Technology', RAFI is sending personal letters to more than 550 ministers and senior officials responsible for agriculture, environment, and patent offices in 140 countries. The letters ask cabinet officers to assert national sovereignty over their seed supply and to ban the seed sterilization technology outright. The letters also ask ministers to reject each individual Terminator-type patent pending within their jurisdiction. Ministers are receiving a status report on key Terminator patents in their countries. Many governments are unaware that the World Trade Organization allows countries to reject individual patents on the grounds that they are contrary to ordre public (public morality and/or a threat to health or the environment)," Pat Mooney, RAFI's Executive Director says, "The WTO also allows governments to ban the entire technology. Both steps should be taken."

Mail Call for Ministers: While letters are going directly to key policy-makers, RAFI is also posting the country-specific status reports on its website. "We're encouraging citizens to write directly to their President or Prime Minister," says RAFI's Edward Hammond, "Close to 7500 letters from 71 countries have been sent to the US Secretary of Agriculture protesting the Terminator. People need to encourage their own governments to act." RAFI's website has an on-line question-and-answer brochure on Terminator. Citizens can review sample letters sent to ministers in English, French, and Spanish and use the letter as the basis for writing directly to their own Head of Government.


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