FW: Food Supply Update: June 5, '98

CK Valois/B Brummitt lilacmn at eot.com
Thu Jun 11 20:04:57 EDT 1998

This was sent to me...curious as to whether it is true or not...

  Cheryl Valois and Bruce Brummitt
           <lilacmn at eot.com> 
             46N56' 95W20'
   Visit the Natural Building Gallery

From: buchner at wcta.net (David Buchner)
To: lilacmn at eot.com
Subject: Food Supply Update: June 5, '98
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 11:38:14 -0500

A little something to help you sleep better, in case you haven't already
read it somewhere else...

> Newsgroups: misc.rural
> Subject: Food Supply Update: June 5, '98
> Date: 05 Jun 1998 22:31:38 EDT
> Organization: The Ark Institute
> Food Supply Update:  June 5, 1998
> Seed Terminator and Mega-Merger Threaten Food and Freedom
> Copyright © 1998, by Geri Guidetti
> There have been times in human history when the line between genius and 
> insanity was so fine that it was barely perceptible.   In the world of 
> biotechnology and food, that line has just been obliterated.  
> Announcements made over the past 90 days suggest that  an ingenius 
> scientific achievement and subsequent, related business developments  
> threaten to terminate the natural, God-given right and ability of  
> people everywhere to freely grow food to feed themselves and others.  
> Never before has man created such an insidiously dangerous, far-reaching 
> and potentially "perfect" plan to control the livelihoods, food supply 
> and even survival of all humans on the planet. Overstatement?  Judge for 
> yourself.
> On March 3, 1998, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the 
> Delta and Pine Land Company, a Mississippi  firm and the largest cotton 
> seed company in the world, announced that they had jointly developed and 
> received a patent (US patent number 5,723,765) on a new, agricultural 
> biotechnology.  Benignly titled, "Control of Plant Gene Expression", the 
> new patent will permit its owners and licensees to create sterile seed 
> by cleverly and selectively programming a plant’s  DNA to kill its own 
> embryos.  The patent applies to plants and seeds of all species. The 
> result?  If saved at harvest for future crops, the seed produced by 
> these plants will not grow.  Pea pods, tomatoes, peppers, heads of wheat 
> and ears of corn will essentially become seed morgues.   In one broad, 
> brazen stroke of his hand, man will have irretrievably broken  the plant 
> - to - seed - to - plant - to - seed - cycle,  THE cycle that supports 
> most life on the planet.   No seed, no food—unless—unless you buy more 
> seed.  This is obviously good for seed companies.  As it turns out, it 
> is also good for the US Department of Agriculture.
> In a recent interview with RAFI,  the Canada-based Rural Advancement 
> Foundation International,  US Department of Agriculture (USDA) 
> spokesman, Willard Phelps,  explained that the USDA wants this 
> technology to be "widely licensed and made expeditiously available to 
> many seed companies."  The goal, he said, is "to increase the value of 
> proprietary seed owned by US seed companies and to open up new markets 
> in Second and Third World countries." The USDA and Delta & Pine Land Co. 
>  have applied for patents on the terminator technology in at least 78 
> countries!
> Once the technology is commercialized, the USDA will earn royalties of 
> about 5% of net sales.  "I think it will be profitable for USDA," Phelps 
> said.  (Royalties?  Profits?  For a Department of the US Federal 
> Government?  What’s wrong with this picture?) 
> The Terminator Technology was created to prevent farmers from saving 
> non-hybrid, open-pollinated or genetically altered seed sold by seed 
> companies.  Open-pollinated varieties of crops like wheat and 
> rice—staples for most of the world’s population—are typical examples. 
> The stated logic for Terminator Technology is simple, really.  A seed 
> company invests money to develop and produce new varieties of seed.  It 
> hopes to sell a lot of that seed to recoup monies spent on crop research 
> and seed development, and then to realize a profit on their investment. 
>  Fair enough, it would seem, but there are BIG concerns around the world 
> about how much profit, how much control many of these multinational seed 
> companies actually seek.  Many of their  proprietary seeds are no more 
> than genetically altered versions of older, reliable, conventionally 
> bred strains that have been in the public domain for many, many years.  
>  Change a gene to give a seed resistance to some new strain of disease, 
> the logic goes,  and the seed no longer belongs to the people to grow 
> and save as they like, but to the seed company.  In the past several 
> years the world community has been outraged as some multinational seed 
> companies have brazenly tried to claim ownership of whole species of 
> food plants based on the logic that they had altered a gene in a member 
> of that species and, hence, now owned its whole genome!  
> In a world of burgeoning population growth and, hence, demand for food, 
> giant, multi-national seed companies hope to sell a lot of  proprietary, 
> genetically engineered seed.  Food is a BIG business that will only get 
> bigger, and they want farmers around the world to need to come back to 
> them, year after year, to buy the seed and, in some cases, even the 
> chemicals, to grow it.  Plant patents, gene licensing agreements, 
> intellectual property laws, investigations and  lawsuits brought against 
> farm families for infringing on a seed company’s monopoly on seed 
> varieties are some of the means now used to protect their interests.  
> The new Terminator Technology could render even these modern, legal 
> measures of control obsolete,  as it is potentially so powerful, so 
> effective and so flawless in its applicability that its corporate owners 
> and licensees will literally have complete biological control over the 
> food crops in which it is applied.   Seed companies have been working 
> hard to prevent farmers around the world from saving their own seed from 
> plants originally grown with seed purchased from these companies.  They 
> are also trying to find ways to encourage farmers around the world—in 
> the U.S., Europe and especially the huge market represented by farmers  
> in South America, Mexico and Asia, to switch to genetically engineered, 
> proprietary seed instead of relying on the eons-old practice of saving 
> their own locally produced and conventionally bred seed.   If they can 
> produce and offer  their "improved" seed cheaply enough to convince even 
> poorer, Second and Third World farmers to switch, they will have 
> captured much of the global market.  The Terminator will ensure that 
> this market—these  farmers and the communities and countries they 
> feed—will  be completely dependent on the company in order to continue 
> to eat. 
> There is another potential dark side to the Terminator.  Molecular 
> biologists reviewing the technology are divided on whether or not there 
> is a risk of the Terminator function escaping the genome of the crops 
> into which it has been intentionally incorporated and moving into 
> surrounding open-pollinated crops or  wild, related plants in fields 
> nearby.  The means of this "infection"  would be via pollen from 
> Terminator-altered plants.  Given Nature’s  incredible adaptability, and 
> the fact that the technology has never been tested on a large scale, the 
> possibility that the Terminator may spread to surrounding food crops or 
> to the natural environment MUST be taken seriously.  The gradual spread 
> of sterility in seeding plants would result in a global catastrophe that 
> could eventually wipe out higher life forms, including humans, from the 
> planet.  
> According to USDA researchers,  they have spent about $190,000 over four 
> years working on the joint project. (Yes, you and I supported this 
> research.) For its share, the  Delta & Pine Land Company has reportedly 
> devoted $275,000 of in-house expenses, plus an additional $255,000.  
> Combined, these dollars are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the 
> potential profitability of the technology to its owners. According to 
> USDA’s Willard Phelps, the Delta & Pine Land Co.  retains the option to 
> exclusively license the jointly-developed  technology.  In its March 3rd 
> press release, the company claimed that the new technology has "the 
> prospect of opening significant worldwide seed markets to the sale of 
> transgenic technology for crops in which seed currently is saved and 
> used in subsequent plantings."  In a recent communique, RAFI states:  
> "If the Terminator Technology is widely utilized, it will give the 
> multinational seed and agrochemical industry an unprecedented and 
> extremely dangerous capacity to control the world’s food supply."  That 
> fear may be realized much sooner than anyone could have imagined.
> At the time of the March 3 announcement of the US government-supported 
> technology, it was common knowledge that multinational seed and 
> pesticides giant, Monsanto, was a minor (8%) shareholder in the Delta & 
> Pine Land Co.  The two jointly have a cotton seed venture in China.  On 
> May 11th, a mere nine weeks after the announcement of the Terminator 
> Technology, Monsanto bought  the Delta & Pine Land Co.  and, with it, 
> the complete control of the Terminator Technology.  For an even bigger 
> picture of the implications of this acquisition, here’s a summary of 
> some published information on Monsanto’s current agricultural holdings 
> and activities:
> · The purchase of Delta & Pine now gives Monsanto an overwhelming 85% 
> share of the US cotton seed market and a dominant global position in 
> this crop.
> · On May 11th, Monsanto also announced the take-over of Dekalb, the 
> second largest maize (corn) company in the US.  
> · In January of 1997, Monsanto acquired Holden’s Foundation Seeds.  A 
> company spokesman said at the time that its goal was to get its 
> bioengineered seed on at least half of the then 40 million acres that 
> Monsanto had access to via its acquisitions.
>  It is estimated that 25-35% of US corn acreage is planted with Holden’s 
> products.
>  The Holden and Dekalb acquisitions make Monsanto the dominant player in 
> the
>                corn market.
> · In November, Monsanto acquired Brazilian seed company, Sementes 
> Agroceres.  This acquisition gave Monsanto 30% of the Brazilian corn 
> seed business.  Brazilian
>  farmers who have been breeding and saving their own seed for centuries 
> are
>  considered primary targets for terminator and apomictic (below) corn 
> seed products.      
> · On January 20th, the USDA won another patent—no. 5,710,367—covering 
> "apomictic maize".  This corn trait speeds hybrid seed production by 
> allowing the plant to produce hybrid clones, lowering the price of 
> hybrid seed.  Third World farmers unable to afford more expensive hybrid 
> seed could potentially buy these less expensive clones.  Unlike other 
> hybrids, apomictic corn can be regrown but its genetic uniformity 
> (remember, clones)  would make it more likely to lose its disease 
> resistance more frequently,  forcing farmers to buy seed more often.  
> There are fears that Monsanto will obtain these license rights from the 
> USDA.  Monsanto’s recent corn company acquisitions and, now, near 
> monopoly in corn, make this a critical concern.  
> · A Washington connection, according to RAFI:  "In the past two years, a 
> number of high-ranking White House and USDA officials have left 
> Washngton for the allure of Monsanto’s headquarters in St. Louis, 
> Missouri."              
> · "In October 1997, Monsanto and Millenium Pharmaceuticals (another 
> US-based genomics company) announced a 5 year collaborative agreement 
> worth over US $118 million, including the creation of a new Monsanto 
> subsidiary with about 100 scientists to work exclusively with Millenium 
> to use genomic technologies.  The exclusive agreement is not limited to 
> a single crop or geographic location – it covers all crop plants in all 
> countries.  Monsanto considers the new subsidiary ‘an integral part of 
> its life sciences strategy’ and hopes to gain a competitive edge in the 
> search for patentable – and likely ‘Terminator-able’ crop genes."
> · Monsanto has pioneered enforcement strategies for protection of its 
> plant patents.  Much of this pioneering has been centered on its 
> genetically altered soybeans which have the ability to withstand 
> spraying with the company’s leading herbicide, Roundup.  (Weeds and 
> other native plants die, beans live.)   In 1996 the company set a new 
> precedent requiring farmers buying its genetically engineered  "Roundup 
> Ready Soybeans"  to sign and adhere to the terms of its "1996 Roundup 
> Ready Gene Agreement."  Terms:  The farmer must pay a $5 per bag 
> "technology fee";  the farmer must give Monsanto the right to inspect, 
> monitor and test his/her fields for up to 3 years;  the farmer must use 
> only Monsanto’s brand of the glyphosate herbicide it calls Roundup;   
> the farmer must give up his/her right to save and replant the patented 
> seed;  the farmer must agree not to sell or otherwise supply the seed to 
> "any other person or entity."  The farmer  must also agree, in writing, 
> to pay Monsanto "...100 times the then applicable fee for the Roundup 
> Ready gene, times the number of units of transferred seed, plus 
> reasonable attorney’s fees and expenses..." should he violate any 
> portion of the agreement. The farmers’ outcry against the stringent 
> inspection and monitoring of their private property caused Monsanto to 
> modify that part of the agreement in 1997.  
> · The company has used a similar licensing agreement for its genetically 
> engineered cotton and, according to a spokeswoman,  plans to introduce 
> licensing agreements with all genetically engineered seeds Monsanto 
> brings to market.  These will include Roundup Ready canola (canola oil), 
> corn, sugarbeets, etc.  (Keep in mind that now Monsanto has Terminator 
> Technology to license, as well.  It is applicable to all food crops 
> according to its primary inventor.)
> Four days ago, the scope of the potential impact of the Terminator 
> Technology on global agriculture broadened explosively with the 
> announcement that American Home Products Corporation (AHP) had agreed to 
> buy Monsanto Co.  for $33.9 billion in stock.   "AHP," according to its 
> press release,  "is one of the world’s largest research-based 
> pharmaceutical and health care products companies....It is also a global 
> leader in vaccines, biotechnology, agricultural products and animal 
> health care."  Reuters reports that the acquisition will create "a 
> powerful pharmaceutical company with a massive presence in the growing 
> market for genetically engieered agricultural products."
> Actually, AHP is a family of companies including American Cyanamid, 
> Cyamid Agricultural Products Group, Wyeth Ayerst, and others.  It is the 
> third largest in the US in herbicides, insecticides and fungicides but, 
> with its acquisition of Monsanto,  it is now estimated that the combined 
> companies will become the largest agrochemical/life industries company 
> in the world, beating Swiss global giant, Novartis.  It does not take a 
> giant mental leap to see the massive potential for the application and 
> marketing of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready seed and licensing agreements and 
> the Terminator Technology  to an increasing number of companies and food 
> crops.   If the Terminator technology is not globally banned,  its 
> eventual incorporation into all  genetically engineered and 
> open-pollinated, non-hybrid food crops is predictable.  
> As most of you are aware, I have often fretted in these pages about the 
> vulnerabilities of our increasingly centralized, computer-based, 
> bottom-line driven,  large corporation-dominated  food production, 
> processing and distribution system.  Extreme weather patterns, toxic 
> waste-contaminated fertilizers, epidemic bacterial contamination of food 
> and the  year-2000 crash of computers responsible for keeping the whole, 
> complex system running have been big concerns.   I have warned you of 
> the planned disappearance of non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds—seeds 
> that let you retain the means of growing your own food if you want or 
> need to—seeds that ensure protective biodiversity—seeds that may provide 
> personal food security in insecure times.  Now the Terminator threatens 
> even these.  
> Make no mistake about it—widespread global adoption of the  newly 
> patented Terminator Technology will ensure absolute dependence of 
> farmers, and the people they feed, on multinational corporations for 
> their seed and food.   Dependence does not foster freedom.  On the 
> contrary, dependence fosters a loss of freedom.  Dependence does not 
> increase personal power, it diminishes it.  When you are dependent, you 
> relinquish control.  History is full of examples of peoples and cultures 
> who lost fundamental freedoms—who  were controlled—by  their need for 
> food.  This shouldn’t happen to Second and Third World farmers.  It 
> shouldn’t happen in any of the 78 countries in which the patent has been 
> applied for.  It shouldn’t happen here.  
> The Terminator Technology is brilliant science and arguably "good 
> business", but it  has crossed the line—the tenuous line between genius 
> and insanity.  It is a dangerous, bad idea that should be banned.  
> Period..........Geri Guidetti, The Ark Institute
> **********************************************************************
> Visit The Ark Institute’s web site @ http://www.arkinstitute.com for 
> archived  Food and Grain Supply Updates.  To be placed on Geri 
> Guidetti’s free Food Supply Update email list, send an email with "list" 
> in the subject box to:   arkinst at concentric.net
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> Mailing address:  The Ark Institute, PO Box 142, Oxford, Ohio  45064

buchner at wcta.net
Osage, MN, USA

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