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Stop GE terminator technology
ETC Group received confidential documents stating the ministers from Canada intend to force overturning the international moratorium on genetic seed sterilization known as terminator technology, at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok February 7-11. It is not too late to stop this assault by the Canadian government.
ETC Group, IATP, along with indigenous and farmer groups are calling on people to write the Canadian government and urge them to continue supporting the international moratorium on terminator technology.
A draft letter can be found here:
For more information:
From: Phil Silberman
Sent: Wednesday, February 09, 2005 11:30 PM
To: 'John Grove'
Subject: FW: FW:URGENT ACTION ALERT!!!
Check this out..
The ETC Group (Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration) headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada issued a press release (posted below) on Monday.
They received a confidential memo that reveals that at a United Nations meeting this week in Bangkok, the Canadian government will attempt to overturn an international moratorium on Terminator seed technology.
The Campaign has launched an ACTION ALERT in response:
Terminator seeds are genetically engineered to be sterile and thereby prevent farmers from saving seed. This is an extremely risky and controversial technology. Some scientists worry about what could happen if the terminator is unleashed on the environment. They fear that terminator technology could migrate from one farm to another, or from a farm to wild plants.
And activists in developing nations are concerned that the technology would put too much power in the hands of a few international agribusinesses.
The Campaign has set up an ACTION ALERT that allows you to send an instant e-mail to the following Canadian officials:
1) Prime Minister Paul Martin
2) Hon. Andy Mitchell, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food
3) F.B. Fadden, President, Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Visit the following web address to TAKE ACTION NOW:
Thanks for taking the time to contact these Canadian government officials.
PO Box 55699
Seattle, WA 98155
Web Site: http://www.thecampaign.org
Date: February 7, 2005
7 February 2005
Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology
A confidential document leaked today to ETC Group reveals that the Canadian government, at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok (Feb 7-11), will attempt to overturn an international moratorium on genetic seed sterilisation technology (known universally as Terminator). Even worse, the Canadian government has instructed its negotiators to "block consensus" on any other option.
"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. Canada is betraying Farmers' Rights and food sovereignty everywhere."
Terminator technology was first developed by the US government and the seed industry to prevent farmers from re-planting saved seed and is considered the most controversial and immoral agricultural application of genetic engineering so far. When first made public in 1998, "suicide seeds" triggered an avalanche of public opposition, forcing Monsanto to abandon the technology and prompting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to impose a de facto moratorium on its further development. According to the leaked instructions to Canadian negotiators at SBSTTA 10 (a scientific advisory body to the CBD), Canada will insist on Wednesday (9 Feb.) that governments accept the field testing and commercialization of Terminator varieties (referred to as GURTS -- Genetic Use Restriction Technologies). Canada will also attack an official UN report, prepared by an international expert group, which is critical of the potential impacts of Terminator seeds on small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. In stark contrast to Canada's position, the expert report recommends that governments seek prohibitions on the technology.
In Bangkok, civil society and Indigenous Peoples are calling on the Canadian government to abandon its endorsement of Terminator and to join with other governments to prohibit the technology once and for all. Many African and Asian governments have called for Terminator to be banned and the European Union has also been supportive of the existing moratorium.
"It is outrageous that Canada is backing an anti-farmer technology and shameful that it will 'block consensus' on any other outcome. Governments from around the world must not accept this bullying tactic," says ETC Group's Hope Shand from the negotiations in Bangkok. "If Canada blocks decision-making on this issue, the moratorium will be in jeopardy and terminator seeds will be commercialized ending up in the fields of small farmers."
The full leaked text of the Canadian government's instructions to its negotiators on Terminator/GURTS follows.
Hope Shand and Jim Thomas of ETC Group can be contacted at SBSTTA negotiations in Bangkok on cell phone +44 (0) 7752 106806 or by email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Mooney (in Ottawa) +1 (613) 241-2267 email@example.com
Kathy Jo Wetter (USA) +1 (919) 960-5223 email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Head of the Canadian Delegation in Bangkok is Robert McLean, Environment Canada email Robert.Mclean@ec.gc.ca tel +1 (819) 997-1303
"Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS);
Canada has major reservations regarding the recommendations in the AHTEG report. Canada notes that the experts were unable to reach consensus and that while this is recognized in para. 15 of the report, this should have been made clear in the recommendation section of the report. Unfortunately, the report leaves the impression that consensus was achieved on all of the recommendations when this was clearly not case and in particular in terms of recommendation (b) which reads as follows, "In view of the current lack of data, recommends that Parties and other Governments consider the development of regulatory frameworks not to approve GURTs for field-testing and commercial use."
Canada will suggest that the document clearly indicate in the Annex that there is no consensus on for the recommendations. Alternatively, the AHTEG report can be referred to as the "Chairs' report". Canada also believes that the AHTEG report contains scientific inaccuracies and a lack of balance in terms of reflecting both potential positive and negative impacts of this technology, and these issues should be addressed before the report is further distributed. We believe that it would be beneficial for Parties and other governments to submit comments to the Executive Secretary/CHM to represent national views to improve the accuracy of the document, and that these be made available to both the 8j working group and COP.
Additionally, Canada will propose that SBSTTA adopt a recommendation for decision at COP8 based on the revised wording of recommendation "b" below and will propose this recommendation be incorporated for consideration at the 8j meeting:
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 PROPRIATE 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."
Further proof---as if we needed any---that the world has lost its collective marbles. I can't imagine a single argument for advocating this practice in a sane world. Please send e-mails to the Canadian Prime Minister at email@example.com
Copps.S@parl.gc.ca , Minister_Ministre@hc-sc.gc.ca , firstname.lastname@example.org , email@example.com , Harper.S@parl.gc.ca , Duceppe.G@parl.gc.ca
Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
Plant Gene Resources of Canada
Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration
Canadian Wheat Board
All government emails in pasteable form at:
PLEASE CIRCULATE THIS INFORMATION WIDELY
Friday, February 11, 2005
Suicide Seeds - Bombshell in Bangkok
Canadian-Led Coup to Allow Terminator Technology Narrowly Squelched at UN Meeting
Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto, spoke today at a UN meeting in Bangkok - harshly criticizing his governments' efforts to promote field-testing and commercialization of Terminator seeds (plants genetically-modified to render seeds sterile at harvest time).
"The Canadian government has acted shamefully. It is supporting a dangerous, anti-farmer technology that aims to eliminate the rights of farmers to save and re-use harvested seed," said Schmeiser. "Instead of representing the good will of the Canadian people or attending to the best interests of the Biodiversity Treaty, the Canadian government is fronting for the multinational gene giants who stand to win enormous profits from the release of Terminator seeds around the world."
Schmeiser is the 74-year old Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto for patent infringement when the company's patented, genetically modified canola seed invaded his farm - unwanted and unwelcome. A victim of genetic pollution and a champion of Farmers' Rights, Schmeiser courageously fought Monsanto all the way to the Canadian Supreme Court.
A Canadian government proposal to unleash Terminator was leaked to the ETC Group on the first day of a UN meeting in Bangkok, February 7-11 (SBSTTA, the scientific advisory body to the Convention on Biological Diversity - CBD). The news stunned farmers' organizations, government delegations, and civil society worldwide. Ottawa's instructions to the Canadian delegation in Bangkok called for an all-out push for field-testing and commercialisation of sterile seed technologies, effectively un-doing the precautionary, de facto moratorium on Terminator seeds adopted by governments in 1998. Even worse, the Canadian delegation was instructed to "block consensus" by governments attending the meeting if it didn't get its way. ETC Group has also learned that, in advance of the Bangkok meeting, Canadian embassies around the world asked governments to support a recommendation for "field testing and commercial use" of Terminator.
Canada's blatant promotion of an anti-South technology does not bode well for the G8 meeting of world leaders in July in Scotland where Canada will propose to introduce nanotechnology on the G-8 agenda.
After being swamped this week by protest emails and letters, the Canadian government was forced to soften its public position on Terminator, but it continued to press a solidly pro-Terminator view in the corridors and in a committee appointed to negotiate draft text on Terminator. (The drafting group on Terminator included representatives from Canada, the European Community, Peru, Tanzania, and the Philippines.) By Thursday morning Canada and its seed industry allies had drafted text that included language promoting Terminator field trials, capacity building for the use of Terminator in the developing world and specifically invited the research participation of "private sector entities."
"The draft text on Terminator released Thursday morning was appalling - it looked like it was written by the multinational seed industry," said Jim Thomas of ETC Group, speaking from Bangkok. "It strongly reflected the Canadian government 's pro-Terminator position as revealed earlier this week in the leaked document."
Suicide Seed Squad: Canada hasn't been working alone in Bangkok. The UN meeting was crawling with representatives from the biotech industry and related trade groups - including Monsanto, Delta & Pine Land, Crop Life International, PHARMA (pharmaceutical manufacturers), the International Seed Federation and more - who lobbied against current restrictions on the development of suicide seeds. New Zealand and Australia also backed the position of industry and Canada, while a fleet of US government representatives observed from the sidelines. (The US government is not a Party to the Biodiversity Convention.)
Thankfully, disaster was averted due to key interventions by the governments of Norway, Sweden, Austria, the European Community, Cuba, Peru and Liberia, on behalf of the African Group. The good news is that these governments managed to delete the most offensive wording. The final text and recommendations reaffirm earlier decisions, amounting to a continuing, but fragile, de facto moratorium on Terminator. The issue now bounces to another CBD advisory body (the Working Group on 8(j)) in March 2006.
Interminable Terminator? The bad news is that decisions made in Bangkok will allow the issue of Terminator to be re-examined and re-studied interminably. In ETC Group's view, the CBD continues to dilly-dally and delay decisions on Terminator while the industry is moving full-speed ahead to bring sterile seeds to market.
"The international community needs to know that Terminator technology is a real and present danger. The biotech industry is chomping on the bit to commercialize suicide seeds. Nothing short of an all-out ban on Terminator will stop it from being unleashed in farmer's fields," said Hope Shand of ETC Group.
For more information:
Pat Mooney, ETC Group (Canada) firstname.lastname@example.org:
Hope Shand and Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Group (USA) email@example.com: 919 960-5223
Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group (Mexico) firstname.lastname@example.org: 52 55 55 632 664 Jim Thomas, ETC Group (UK) email@example.com: 44 (0)7752 106806 (mobile)
Canada Backs Terminator Seeds
By John Vidal
The Guardian U.K.
Wednesday 09 February 2005
An international moratorium on the use of one of the world's most controversial GM food technologies may be broken today if the Canadian government gets seed sterilisation backed at a UN meeting.
Leaked documents seen by the Guardian show that Canada wants all governments to accept the testing and commercialisation of "terminator" crop varieties. These are genetically engineered to produce only infertile seeds which farmers cannot replant.
Jointly patented by the GM company Monsanto and the US government, the technology was condemned in the late 1990s by many African and Asian governments who called for a permanent ban.
Monsanto and other GM companies which were developing similar technologies voluntarily pulled out of research after concerns were also raised about the "terminator" genes spreading to non-GM crops, and international outrage that poor farmers would not be able to use seeds from their crops, as they have always done.
But leaked instructions to Canadian government negotiators at the Bangkok meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice, a group which advises the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity, show that Canada will request today that all countries open their doors to the technology.
The papers, leaked to the environment group ETC, also show that the Canadian government will attack an official UN report critical of the potential impact of "terminator" seeds on small farmers and indigenous peoples. The report recommends that governments prohibit the technology.
The Canadian government team in Bangkok was last night unavailable for comment.
Alfred Lambremont Webre, JD, Med
ICIS-Institute for Cooperation in Space
3339 West 41 Avenue
Vancouver, BC V6N3E5 CANADA
Informant: Bea Bernhausen