Statements Against Terminator

ETC Group

The genetic modification of plants to produce sterile seeds has been widely condemned by civil society, scientific bodies and many governments as an immoral application of agricultural biotechnology. The following are some of the organizations and individuals who have spoken out against Terminator technology:

United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture: "The panel unanimously stated that the 'terminator seeds' generally are unethical, finding it unacceptable to market seeds, the offspring of which a farmer cannot use again because the seeds could not germinate."1
Maurice F. Strong, past Secretary General, United Nations Conference on Environment and Development: "If the owners of technology, such as big companies, used it to victimize people through methods such as promotion of 'terminator genes', the state should intervene and not leave the task to the market mechanism."2
Dr. M.S. Swaminathan, former independent chairman of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Council and recipient of the World Food Prize: "In India where there are nearly 100 million operational holdings, denial of plant-back rights or the use of the terminator mechanism will be disastrous from the socio-economic and biodiversity points of view, since over 80 percent of farmers plant their own farm-saved seeds."3

Dr. Jacques Diouf, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General: "We are against [terminator genes]. We are happy to see that in the end some of the main multinationals which have been involved in implementing these terminator genes have decided to backtrack."4
Rafael Alegría, International Secretariat, Via Campesina, representing over 10 million peasant farmers worldwide: "Terminator is a direct assault on farmers and indigenous cultures, and on food sovereignty. It threatens the well-being of all rural people, primarily the very poorest."
Dr. Gordon Conway, President, Rockefeller Foundation: "The agricultural seed industry must disavow use of the terminator technology to produce seed sterility...The possible consequences, if farmers who are unaware of the characteristics of terminator seed purchase it and attempt to reuse it, are certainly negative and may outweigh any social benefits of protecting innovation."5
The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) adopted the following policy on 30 October 1998: "The CGIAR will not incorporate into its breeding materials any genetic systems designed to prevent seed germination. This is in recognition of (a) concerns over potential risks of its inadvertent or unintended spread through pollen; (b) the possibilities of sale or exchange of viable seed for planting; (c) the importance of farm-saved seed, particularly to resource-poor farmers; (d) potential negative impacts on genetic diversity; and (e) the importance of farmer selection and breeding for sustainable agriculture."
1. FAO's Panel of Eminent Experts on Ethics in Food and Agriculture, First Session, Rome, 26-28 September 2000.
2. Maurice F. Strong made the statement in India, April 7, 1999.
3. Swaminathan, M.S., "Farmers' Rights and Plant Genetic Resources," Biotechnology & Development Monitor, No. 36, 1998, p.6-9.
4. Reuters News, February 8, 2000.
5. Dr. Gordon Conway, in a speech to the Monsanto Company Board of Directors, June 24, 1999.