January 30, 2002

Sterile Harvest

New Crop of Terminator Patents Threatens Food Sovereignty

The World's Largest Agrochemical and Seed Enterprises --Syngenta & DuPont -- Win Two New Patents on Genetic Seed Sterilization

The ETC group (formerly RAFI) announced today that the biotechnology industry continues to aggressively pursue the development of genetically modified seeds that are engineered for sterility. "We have uncovered two new patents on Terminator technology," said Hope Shand, Research Director of ETC group. "One patent is held by Dupont (the world's largest seed corporation) and the other is held by Syngenta (the world's largest agrochemical corporation)," said Shand.

Terminator has been widely condemned as an immoral technology that threatens global food security, especially for the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed. If commercialized, the technology will prevent farmers from saving seed from their harvest for planting the following season. In 1999, due to widespread public opposition to Terminator seeds, both Monsanto (soon-to-be-spun-off by Pharmacia) and AstraZeneca (now Syngenta) publicly vowed not to commercialize genetic seed sterilization technology.1

"Contrary to what some of these companies have pledged in the past, the Gene Giants are refining the technology and moving forward to commercialize Terminator seeds," warns Hope Shand, Research Director of the ETC group. "Terminator is a real and present danger for global food security and biodiversity - governments and civil society cannot afford to let 'suicide seeds' slip beneath their radar," said Shand.


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