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Global Moratorium on GM Terminator Technology Upheld UK Campaigning Group on Terminator Technology

Immediate release (3 Apr 2006)

Calls to Eli Lopez 0207 354 0883 Pete Riley 07903 341065

Governments at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have unanimously upheld the global de facto moratorium on Terminator technology][1] (plants that are genetically modified to produce sterile seeds) despite efforts to water it down by a handful of countries.

The 8th Conference of the Parties (COP8) of the CBD met in Brazil from the 20th to the 31st of March and rejected the moves to allow case-by-case assessment. Thousands of farmers protested daily outside the CBD meeting to demand a ban on this technology that threatens the livelihoods and food security of the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed globally.

The CBD de facto moratorium on Terminator technology, in place since 2000 [2], was under attack by the governments of Australia, Canada and New Zealand, who wanted to open the door to field-testing by insisting on case-by-case assessment, before any research has been carried out on the environmental and socio-economic implications of the technology. The UK government supported the case-by-case assessment. Opponents of this approach claimed that it would miss the cumulative impact of Terminator seeds over time in the same way that assessing the impact of a new house would fail to show the overall impact of a whole estate.

A broad global coalition of farmers, civil society and non-governmental organisations, and indigenous people have for months campaigned tirelessly to defend the CBD global moratorium from these attacks. Their efforts have paid off. Not only the CBD has re-affirmed the moratorium on Terminator but also they have strengthened it by making it clear that any future research will need to be conducted within the bounds of the moratorium.

In the UK the strong public feeling on this issue is reflected by the fact that 224 MPs from all parties have signed Early Day Motion 1300 urging the UK government to defend the CBD moratorium.

Elisabet Lopez from the UK Campaigning group [3] on Terminator technology said:

We are relieved that common sense has prevailed in Brazil and that the case-by-case approach, which would have allowed Terminator technology to get established without the essential global impact assessments, has been rejected. UK policy on GM Terminator technology must now reflect the global will and abandon its case-by-case policy. By supporting the CBD de facto moratorium in 2000, Defra acknowledged that Terminator technology is different from any other GMOs and needs to reflect this in their policy. It is imperative that they address clear inconsistencies in their current policy.


Calls to Eli Lopez 0207 354 0883 Pete Riley 07903 341065


[1] Terminator technology was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and US seed company Delta & Pine Land to prevent farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed, forcing them to buy new seeds each season by making seeds sterile (embryos are prevented from developing). The technology has never been field-tested and is not yet commercially available, although Delta & Pine Land is now testing Terminator plants in greenhouses and vows to commercialize them. After delaying for many years, the European Patent Office granted a patent on this technology on 5th October 2005. Both the UN and Monsanto refer to Terminator as Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs).

[2] CDB COP5 in 2000 Decision V/5, section III, Paragraph 23 clearly states that “products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated”. To date no scientific data exists that can justify field-testing of Terminator technology nor any studies of potential ecological or socio-economic impacts; indeed, there is no published information on this technology despite well over a decade’s worth of development.

[3] The UK Campaigning Group on Terminator Technology includes UK Food Group, Progressio (formerly CIIR), Friends of the Earth, GM Freeze, GeneWatch UK, The Gaia Foundation, EcoNexus, International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and Munlochy GM Vigil. Link to for free copies of a leaflet on Terminator technology.
An Early Day Motion (EDM 1300) calling for the moratorium on Terminator to be maintained has been signed by 224 MPs from all parties. (See: