Greenpeace called upon the 188 states at the 8th meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) being held in Curitiba, capital of the Brazilian southern state of Paraná, to maintain the moratorium on the field trials and commercial releases of Terminator seed technology which was agreed six years ago.
"Some states like New Zealand along with a number of biotech companies now want to sneak language into the text that would actually allow for a ‘case by case’ assessment of such technologies to open the door to field testing, while they officially claim to uphold the moratorium", said Greenpeace International’s Benedikt Haerlin from the Convention.
"This technology threatens biodiversity, farmers rights and the environment – what is needed is a ban on these technologies and not an erosion of the moratorium under the pretext of scientific impact and risk assessment," said Haerlin.
Terminators, or GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies), are a class of genetic engineering technologies which allow companies to introduce seeds whose sterile offspring cannot reproduce, preventing farmers from re-planting seeds from their own fields.
The seeds could also be used to introduce specific traits which would only be triggered off by the application of proprietary chemicals provided exclusively by the same companies.
Terminator technologies would allow companies to prevent the public from accessing the results of future breeding, which is the present rationale of plant breeders’ rights and even patents. The moratorium adopted by the Convention on Biodiversity in 2000, discussed the need for more information on the socio-economic, cultural and environmental impacts of these technologies.
"Nothing in the past six years has changed the status quo. Rather, all the additional information we now have on the impact of these technologies confirms that sterility is not a viable means to protect agricultural biodiversity, that it poses a potential threat to food security and that it would have severe impacts on the livelihoods of farmers around the world," concluded Haerlin.
Greenpeace – www.greenpeace.org