In the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba, the initial phase of official negotiations on terminator or suicide seeds at the 8th Conference of the Parties to the Biological Diversity Convention (COP-8) was quick, although the topic is provoking controversy in parallel events.
Work Group I, which was assigned to judge this question, decided Friday, March 24, in favor of maintaining the commercial and research ban on plants containing genetic use restriction technologies, denominated GURTs.
The work group’s decision will now be submitted to the meeting of ministers of the Environment, scheduled to begin on Monday, March 27, for endorsement, prior to being voted at the plenary meeting next Friday, March 31.
According to the Brazilian diplomat, Adriana Tescari, the plenary sessions generally serve simply to rubber-stamp the decisions of the work groups.
But in this case, since there was a great deal of controversy in the parallel debates, and since many delegates were not present at the work group meeting when the decision was made, there is a risk that the debate will be rekindled. At the COP, decisions are made only by consensus.
The GURTs, or terminator seeds, come in two varieties: those that are sterile, generating plants whose seeds do not germinate, and those that possess a specific characteristic that is only activated in the presence of a specific product.
3,600 representatives from 173 countries are attending the conference.