[Market-farming] FW: Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

Marty Kraft martyk at allspecies.org
Sat Feb 12 10:12:11 EST 2005


I thought some people would be interested.

Marty Kraft
Kansas City
===========
ETC Group
News Release
7 February 2005
www.etcgroup.org <http://www.etcgroup.org/article.asp?newsid=498>

Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out
push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

A confidential document leaked today to ETC Group reveals that the Canadian
government, at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok (Feb 7-11), will attempt
to overturn an international moratorium on genetic seed sterilisation
technology (known universally as Terminator). Even worse, the Canadian
government has instructed its negotiators to "block consensus" on any other
option. 

"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. Canada is betraying Farmers' Rights and food sovereignty
everywhere." 

Terminator technology was first developed by the US government and the seed
industry to prevent farmers from re-planting saved seed and is considered
the most controversial and immoral agricultural application of genetic
engineering so far. When first made public in 1998, "suicide seeds"
triggered an avalanche of public opposition, forcing Monsanto to abandon the
technology and prompting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to
impose a de facto moratorium on its further development. According to the
leaked instructions to Canadian negotiators at SBSTTA 10 (a scientific
advisory body to the CBD), Canada will insist on Wednesday (9 Feb.) that
governments accept the field testing and commercialization of Terminator
varieties (referred to as GURTS -- Genetic Use Restriction Technologies).
Canada will also attack an official UN report, prepared by an international
expert group, which is critical of the potential impacts of Terminator seeds
on small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. In stark contrast to Canada's
position, the expert report recommends that governments seek prohibitions on
the technology. 

In Bangkok, civil society and Indigenous Peoples are calling on the Canadian
government to abandon its endorsement of Terminator and to join with other
governments to prohibit the technology once and for all. Many African and
Asian governments have called for Terminator to be banned and the European
Union has also been supportive of the existing moratorium.

"It is outrageous that Canada is backing an anti-farmer technology and
shameful that it will 'block consensus' on any other outcome. Governments
from around the world must not accept this bullying tactic," says ETC
Group's Hope Shand from the negotiations in Bangkok. "If Canada blocks
decision-making on this issue, the moratorium will be in jeopardy and
terminator seeds will be commercialized ending up in the fields of small
farmers." 

The full leaked text of the Canadian government's instructions to its
negotiators on Terminator/GURTS follows.

Hope Shand and Jim Thomas of ETC Group can be contacted at SBSTTA
negotiations in Bangkok on cell phone +44 (0) 7752 106806 or by email
jim at etcgroup.org or hope at etcgroup.org
Pat Mooney (in Ottawa) +1 (613) 241-2267 etc at etcgroup.org
Kathy Jo Wetter (USA) +1 (919) 960-5223 email kjo at etcgroup.org


The Head of the Canadian Delegation in Bangkok is Robert McLean, Environment
Canada 
email Robert.Mclean at ec.gc.ca tel +1 (819) 997-1303

*** 

"Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use
Restriction Technologies (GURTS);

Canada has major reservations regarding the recommendations in the AHTEG
report. Canada notes that the experts were unable to reach consensus and
that while this is recognized in para. 15 of the report, this should have
been made clear in the recommendation section of the report. Unfortunately,
the report leaves the impression that consensus was achieved on all of the
recommendations when this was clearly not case and in particular in terms of
recommendation (b) which reads as follows, "In view of the current lack of
data, recommends that Parties and other Governments consider the development
of regulatory frameworks not to approve GURTs for field-testing and
commercial use." 

Canada will suggest that the document clearly indicate in the Annex that
there is no consensus on for the recommendations. Alternatively, the AHTEG
report can be referred to as the "Chairs' report". Canada also believes that
the AHTEG report contains scientific inaccuracies and a lack of balance in
terms of reflecting both potential positive and negative impacts of this
technology, and these issues should be addressed before the report is
further distributed. We believe that it would be beneficial for Parties and
other governments to submit comments to the Executive Secretary/CHM to
represent national views to improve the accuracy of the document, and that
these be made available to both the 8j working group and COP.

Additionally, Canada will propose that SBSTTA adopt a recommendation for
decision at COP8 based on the revised wording of recommendation "b" below
and will propose this recommendation be incorporated for consideration at
the 8j meeting: 

NEW WORDING for recommendation b) of AHTEG report
(b) In view of the current lack of data, recommend that Parties and other
Governments consider the development of domestic regulatory frameworks TO
ALLOW FOR THE EVALUATION OF NOVEL VARIETIES, INCLUDING THOSE WITH GURTS, FOR
FIELD TESTING AND COMMERCIAL USE BASED ON APPROPRIATE SCIENCE-BASED
ENVIRONMENTAL RISK/SAFETY ASSESSMENTS.

In Canada's opinion the revised wording we are suggesting, strengthens the
recommendation and provides for a strong scientific assessment of risk.

If we are unsuccessful in obtaining these additions (indication that
recommendations in the AHTEG report were not based on consensus OR agreement
to have national views submitted) AND changes to recommendation "B" --or any
other outcome which clearly addresses our concern over a defacto moratorium
on GURTS-- Canada is prepared to block consensus on this issue."


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