February 23, 2006
1) Monsanto Responds
2) Ban Terminator Campaign Follow-up Letter
1) Monsanto says it has no plans for commercialisation of Terminator Technology
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
In response to media enquiries (following unsubstantiated allegations that sterile seed technology could be commercialised), Monsanto in the UK responded: "Research on this technology remains incomplete, as it was in 1999 and any development still does not involve us; likewise, its potential future commercialisation is not part of our plans either."
Page 29 of our 2005 Pledge Report includes confirmation that we stand by our 1999 commitment not to commercialise sterile seed technologies in food crops, and how we "constantly re-evaluate this stance as the technology develops".
THIS IS NOT NEW, AS WE ALSO SAID IN THE 1999 OPEN LETTER...."We are not currently investing resources to develop these technologies, but we do not rule out their future development and use for gene protection or their possible agronomic benefits"
Monsanto UK's Director of Corporate Affairs, Tony Combes commented "We have NOT changed our policy and it is nonsense to suggest farmers in developing countries cannot trust us.
Over 8 million did last year, along with other biotech companies, and that number increases each year as millions of growers in developing countries realise the environmental, economic and personal benefits of this scale-neutral technology on their land.
If you don't plant GM seeds, you don't pay anything towards the technology. It is bunkum and balderdash to suggest otherwise".
Copyright 2006 Monsanto Company
2) Request for Clarification regarding Terminator Technology for non-food crops
Wednesday February 22, 2006
Dear Mr. Combes,
I am writing on behalf of the Ban Terminator Campaign, endorsed by over 370 organisations across the world, to request an urgent clarification regarding Monsanto’s new position on Terminator Technology, particularly regarding its development and commercialisation in non-food crops.
In a press statement issued Wednesday 22 February 2006, you referred to page 29 of Monsanto’s 2005 Pledge Report saying, “We stand by our 1999 commitment not to commercialise sterile seed technologies in food crops”. However your 1999 public commitment, as made in an open letter to the then-President of the Rockefeller Foundation, did not limit Monsanto’s commitment to ‘food crops’. This appears to be a new qualification by Monsanto and a significant change to your pledge.
Could you please clarify whether Monsanto’s ongoing commitment not to commercialise sterile seed technologies extends to all crops or is now simply limited to ‘food crops’?
If Monsanto’s pledge not to commercialise Terminator now excludes non-food crops from its scope, could you also please explain why you have chosen to make this alteration and which stakeholders were consulted and engaged in this decision-making process?
Could you also please clarify whether Monsanto currently has any development underway involving sterility traits in cotton, grass, trees, flax or other non-food crops?
In your statement, you also say that the development of Terminator Technology “does not involve us.” Despite this, we notice that your colleague Dr. Roger Krueger has been a highly visible advocate of this technology at successive meetings of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity: SBSTTA 9 in Montreal (March 2003), COP7 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (March 2004), the meeting of SBSTTA 10 in Bangkok, Thailand (February 2005), and the Working Group on 8j in Granada Spain (January 2006), as well as on the “Ad-Hoc Technical Expert Group on the Potential Impacts of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies on Smallholder Farmers, Indigenous and Local Communities and Farmers’ Rights.” Dr. Krueger also co-authored the International Seed Federation's 2003 paper on GURTs which argues that Terminator is "a technology with large potential benefits to farmers of all sizes and economic conditions throughout the world." Can we also expect Monsanto’s involvement in discussions on Terminator at the upcoming meetings of the CBD in Curitiba next month?
We look forward to your response.
Coordinator, Ban Terminator Campaign
cc. Hugh Grant, CEO Monsanto Company.
Judith Rodin, President, The Rockefeller Foundation.
Gordon Conway, Chief Science Advisor, UK Department for International Development, and Former President, The Rockefeller Foundation.