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GM Freeze Condemns Terminator Gene Patents Decisions

Immediate release (25 Oct 2005)

Calls to Pete Riley 07903 341065

News released by Greenpeace International (see Press Release below) that patents for Terminator Technology have been granted in Europe and Canada have been condemned by GM Freeze.

GM Freeze wants the UK Government to take a strong stance against the legalisation of Terminator and support a global ban on the technology during the Convention on Biodiversity negotiations in Spain in March 2006.

Commenting on the news Pete Riley of GM Freeze said:

The decision to allow patents on Terminator Technology is bad news for farmers throughout the world because it undermines the age old rights of farmers to save seed, by creating sterile seeds. It was developed to ensure that biotechnology companies can take control of the supply of seeds. The world’s poor farmers rely on their ability to save seeds from their own crop – the UK Government must defend that right by supporting a ban on terminator technology.

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Corporates gain control over nature’s seeds as the Terminator patent is granted

Amsterdam, 25 October 2005 – Greenpeace today exposed details that the patent for the controversial “Terminator technology” was granted in Europe on 5 October 2005. The Terminator patent (1) has been approved for all plants that are genetically engineered so that their seeds will not germinate. Further research by the “Ban Terminator Campaign”, a network of farmers’ unions and environmental organisations revealed that a patent was also granted in Canada on 11 October 2005.

Plants created using Terminator technology will produce sterile seeds, creating a monopoly and unnatural control of the seeds. Farmers will not be able to use seeds from such plants for the following season’s cultivation. The seeds will rot in the soil without producing new plants. If this technology is introduced in crops such as soya, wheat, canola and cotton it will force farmers to buy new seeds every year from the same company.

“Farmers should be aware that corporations all over the world are ready to take control of their seeds with genetic engineering (GE). These corporations will control the entire food chain with the help of monopoly patents and Terminator technology,” said Christoph Then, Greenpeace International GE campaigner. “We need a global ban on this technology and on any patents on seeds. These corporate instruments will disrupt the backbone of global food supply, making it impossible for the farmers to reuse their own harvest for planting.”

So far, the market introduction of the Terminator technology-which was already developed about ten years ago-was successfully prevented through worldwide protest of several groups and stakeholders. But many observers believe that the GE industry will drive towards the legalisation of this technology at the meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in March next year. The grant of the patent could push even harder for market introduction.

“These new patents confirm that corporations are once again actively pursuing Terminator technology and an international ban on the technology is urgently needed,” said Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator of the new global Ban Terminator Campaign, which involves farmers unions, environmental and Indigenous people organisations (2).

Although the GE industry claims that Terminator technology will help contain the spread of GE contamination, Greenpeace believes otherwise. “GE technology can not be controlled by Terminator seeds. On the contrary, it is likely that farmers will find their harvest being contaminated with this Terminator technology, if introduced. This is a real threat for estimated 80% of the farmers all over the world who save their seeds for cultivation.”
Greenpeace is an independent campaigning organisation that uses non-violent creative confrontation to expose global environmental problems to force solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future.

For further information, contact:
Christoph Then, Greenpeace International GE Campaign, +49 171 8780832
Judit Kalovits, Greenpeace International Communications, +31 621 296914
Lucy Sharatt, Ban Terminator Campaign, +1 613 2412267, mobile: +1 613 2226214

Notes

[1] The Terminator patent, EP 775212B, was granted to US-based Delta &Pine and the United States of America, represented by the Secretary of Agriculture. According to further data bank research the patent was already granted in similar versions in USA, further applications were filed in Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Turkey and South Africa.

[2] See http://www.banterminator.org
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