GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 10th February 2005

"Stop Terminator!" Government Urged as Canada threatens International Consensus.

New Zealand needs to take a stand supporting the international community and block moves by the Canadian government to authorise Terminator seeds.

But it's now being revealed that New Zealand is backing Canada in what is a clear betrayal of the New Zealand national interest or the public will.

An international conference in Bangkok will see a motion tabled by Canada to reinstate trials and use of Terminator genes - one of a range of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) that has caused international alarm because of the dire implications it has for food security and sustainable farming.

Terminator technology is the insertion of a gene sequence that renders the seeds of a plant sterile, forcing farmers to buy seeds each year and ending the right of farmers to save seeds for the next season.

Other GURTS include the so-called "Verminator" (nicknamed by the British media because it uses a gene construct from a rat) could go a step further and would require a proprietary chemical to be bought and applied before a
seed would start growing at all.

Terminator has been the subject of international consensus that it is a threat to basic human rights and the food supply, and till recently biotech companies like Monsanto had agreed not to commercialise it.

Moves to authorise Terminator are a direct attack on thousands of years of agriculture that formed the basis of human civilisation. It threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world as well as
the environment and human health.

Though it is clear that the biotech industry is incapable of controlling its products, and are failing to stop contamination from GE and pharmaceutical crops, Terminator is not a solution to these problems.

The New Zealand government must oppose the moves in Bangkok to allow Terminator technology or be guilty of what some believe would be a crime against humanity if the predicted detrimental outcomes result.

Despite New Zealand's Royal Commission on GM giving a quiet nod to Terminator genes there is very strong objection from the New Zealand Public to Terminator because of its implications.

Our government must speak up for that view and the national interest- including our farmers access to clean GM-free conventional seed, rather than serve the interests of multinational corporations seeking to control
seed supplies.

As well as issues of basic human rights, sustainable farming in developing countries, and approval of GE foods by regulators without the long-term testing being demanded by scientists, there are fears of the impact on the
environment from GURTS. "Whether Terminator sequences transfer through pollen drift by accident or
are deliberately introduced -the risk to global food supply is frightening. Farmers in countries that rely on seed- saving and non-chemical food production will be unable to farm, " says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment. "Worse it will see chemical use sky-rocket."

Recently Iraqi farmers were banned from saving seeds under a directive from the US administration there.

"This is a wake-up call for New Zealand farmers and the public at large: companies are setting their sites on our food supply in ways that will be detrimental to the Public Good." says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE free
NZ in food and environment.

GE FREE NZ in food and Environment are calling on the New Zealand government to oppose Terminator in all international forums. In recent times the New Zealand government has been backing the US at the
WTO to force GE foods on other countries and to limit regulatory control. It's time to end that betrayal of the long-term national interest and the interest of the international community.

The government must back New Zealand farmers and the public against the threat to legitimise Terminator at the conference in Bangkok. Failure to do so may lead to even greater international campaigning by farmers and
civil society than has been seen in the GE-debate to date. STOP PRESS: NZ is Backing Terminator!!!

This from Robert Vint:

Jim Thomas <> in Bangkok reports that the Canadian bid to overturn the moratorium on GM Terminator Technologies (GURTS) was backed only by the Govs of New Zealand and Australia in the UN meeting this morning.


Claire Bleakley (06) 3089842

Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

Robert Vint, Director, Genetic Food Alert UK Hope House, 75a, High Street,
Totnes,Devon TQ9 5PB UK +44 (0)1803 868523


For news coverage see:,2763,1408821,00.html Wed 09 February 2005

Canada endorsing Monsanto 'suicide seeds' Leaked document reveals secret plans A document leaked to the ETC group reveals that Canada is going to the UN to promote "terminator" technology: genetically engineered (GE)
seeds designed to grow crops which can't reproduce. These "suicide seeds," designed solely to protect the patents and profits of multinational corporations, are currently forbidden from being planted outside the lab.
The secret instructions to Canada's delegation: block concensus on any other option than testing these seeds in the wild. "Canada is about to launch a devastating kick in the stomach to the world's most vulnerable farmers - the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm saved seed," said ETC Group Executive Director Pat Mooney speaking from Ottawa. "The Canadian government is doing the dirty work for the multinational gene giants and the US government. Even Monsanto wasn't prepared to be this upfront and nasty." Public outrage greeted "suicide seeds" when they were introduced in 1988. Monsanto, the company which developed the technology, was forced to back down when activists and scientists around the world warned of possible wild crop sterilisation through contamination. We're concerned that this is an attempt by at least one person within at least one department of the Canadian government to use Canada's political leverage within a relatively unknown scientific and technical committee in order to
open the door to Terminator technology's release into the wild. We contacted Mr Stefan Yarrow, Director of the plant Biosafety office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Mr. Yarrow believes we should give this
technology a chance. He emphasized that he was not aware of any current applications to use Terminator seeds and that his department would review carefully any such application that might be made in future. Mr Yarrow
said that he simply wants to test the safety of Terminator genes. He thinks it's fine that this research will take place out of doors in large scale field trials. He said that he had heard that some third world farmers were concerned that they wouldn't be able to save their seed. The fact is, Terminator technology takes a massive risk with our food supply, puts poor farmers into a near-servitude relationship with seed salesmen, and benefits only the multinational corporations like Monsanto which promote it. So who is really behind the Canadian move? Is this something
that is being done in the name of Canadian citizens? Is it official Canadian government policy? Is Monsanto or any other genetic engineering company in any way providing Canadian officials incentives to promote their technology?

Text of the Canadian government's instructions to its negotiators on Terminator/GURTS follows.

"Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS);

NEW WORDING for recommendation b) of AHTEG report > (b) In view of the current lack of data, recommend that Parties and other Governments consider the development of domestic regulatory frameworks TO ALLOW FOR THE EVALUATION OF NOVEL VARIETIES, INCLUDING THOSE WITH GURTS, FOR FIELD
TESTING AND COMMERCIAL USE BASED ON APPROPRIATE SCIENCE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL RISK/SAFETY ASSESSMENTS. In Canada's opinion the revised wording we are suggesting, strengthens the recommendation and provides for a strong scientific assessment of risk. If we are unsuccessful in obtaining these additions (indication that recommendations in the AHTEG report were not based on consensus OR agreement to have national views submitted) AND changes to recommendation "B" -- or any other outcome which
clearly addresses our concern over a defacto moratorium on GURTS-- Canada is prepared to block consensus on this issue."


Back to Press Release Directory