June 15, 2000

Despite Mounting Opposition from Southern nations, delegates at the Biodiversity Convention fail to ban Terminator

In the face of mounting evidence of its commercialization, the Fifth Conference of the Parties (COP 5) to the Biodiversity Convention (CBD) failed to heed the warnings of most of the world's nations to ban the Terminator technology. 'By not responding to the calls made by many of the nations of the world, a minority of COP delegates from the North ultimately abdicated their responsibility to international food security and biodiversty,' said Julie Delahanty of RAFI.

Despite information about new patents and field trials, and the strong opposition to Terminator and genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs)* expressed clearly by most of the world's nations, the CBD approved a proposal coming from its Scientific Advisory Body (called SBSTTA). That proposal recommends that GURTs not be approved for field-testing or be commercialized until more scientific data can be gathered on its potential impacts. The text also states that Parties may choose to establish a complete moratorium on these technologies at the national level.

'The COP 5 recommendation is significant because it highlight the possible negative consequences of the technology,' noted Silvia Ribeiro of RAFI. 'But from the discussion in Nairobi, it was clear to almost everyone that the wording should have been stronger.'

Southern Governments Call for Stronger Action: During the Working Group on Agricultural Biodiversity, much of the discussion centered on the issue of GURTs. A number of countries, including Kenya, the Philippines, India, Tanzania, and Malawi, as well as a large group of civil society organizations (CSOs) called for a complete ban on Terminator.

'Terminator technology has no agronomic benefit and it imposes a biological patent with no expiration date to the crops when it is applied,' noted the statement by CSOs. Further, the group called for a complete ban on Terminator and a moratorium on GURTs 'until in-depth, independent environmental, socio-economic, and potential military impact assessments have been carried out.'


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