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Canada endorsing Monsanto 'suicide seeds'

Leaked document reveals secret plans

Feature story - 9 February, 2005
A document leaked to the ETC group reveals that Canada is going to the UN to promote "terminator" technology: genetically engineered (GE) seeds designed to grow crops which can't reproduce. These "suicide seeds," designed solely to protect the patents and profits of multinational corporations, are currently forbidden from being planted outside the lab. The secret instructions to Canada's delegation: block concensus on any other option than testing these seeds in the wild.

Terminator seeds don't produce replantable offspring.

"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."

Public outrage greeted "suicide seeds" when they were introduced in 1988. Monsanto, the company which developed the technology, was forced to back down when activists and scientists around the world warned of possible wild crop sterilisation through contamination.

We're concerned that this is an attempt by at least one person within at least one department of the Canadian government to use Canada's political leverage within a relatively unknown scientific and technical committee in order to open the door to Terminator technology's release into the wild.

We contacted Mr Stefan Yarrow, Director of the plant Biosafety office of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Mr. Yarrow believes we should give this technology a chance. He emphasized that he was not aware of any current applications to use Terminator seeds and that his department would review carefully any such application that might be made in future.

Mr Yarrow said that he simply wants to test the safety of Terminator genes.

He thinks it's fine that this research will take place out of doors in large scale field trials.

He said that he had heard that some third world farmers were concerned that they wouldn't be able to save their seed.

The fact is, Terminator technology takes a massive risk with our food supply, puts poor farmers into a near-servitude relationship with seed salesmen, and benefits only the multinational corporations like Monsanto which promote it.

So who is really behind the Canadian move? Is this something that is being done in the name of Canadian citizens?

Is it official Canadian government policy?

Is Monsanto or any other genetic engineering company in any way providing Canadian officials incentives to promote their technology?

You can join us in asking these questions direct to Mr. Stefan Yarrow (We found him at telephone number +1 613 225 2342).