Please Submit Written Comments on the Potential Impacts of Terminator Technology on Indigenous Peoples, Local Communities, Peasants and Small-Scale Farmers
Take Action by September 30
Indigenous peoples, local communities, peasants and small-scale farmers' organizations and others have the opportunity to send written comments on the potential impacts of Terminator to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) before September 30, 2005. Terminator (also called Genetic Use Restriction Technology GURTs) refers to plants that are genetically modified to render sterile seeds preventing farmers from saving and re-using harvested seeds.
What is your viewpoint? What does your experience tell you about what impacts to expect if Terminator is introduced? What specific cultural values or practices of your community would be affected and how?
WHAT: A request for written comments on the potential impacts of Terminator technology (plants that are genetically modified to render sterile seeds) on Indigenous peoples, local communities, smallholder farmers. Terminator seeds are not available yet, but the seed industry is still developing the technology and is pushing hard to commercialize it.
WHO: Indigenous peoples, local communities, smallholder farmers organizations and other "stakeholders."
DEADLINE: September 30, 2005
TO: United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, Working Group on Article 8(j) that deals with issues around traditional knowledge and biodiversity (full address supplied below).
WHY: The 2000 United Nations' precautionary language on Terminator technology is threatened by the actions of some governments and corporations. Your input is urgently needed because the seed industry is pushing hard to win approval for genetically modified Terminator seeds. This is an important opportunity to strengthen the United Nations' de facto moratorium and to press for - and win - a ban on Terminator. www.banterminator.org
* In 2000 the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted language that recommends a de facto moratorium on Terminator.
* In 2002, the 6th Conference of the Parties of the CBD established an Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group (AHTEG) to examine the potential impacts of Terminator/GURTs on "smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities and farmers rights."
* In 2004, the 7th Conference of the Parties to the CBD asked the Working Group on Article 8(j) which deals with issues around traditional knowledge to consider Terminator technology, including the new report from the AHTEG.
In February 2005 the Canadian government tried to overturn the international de facto moratorium on Terminator at a meeting of the CBDs scientific advisors in Bangkok. The Canadian government and other governments also tried to discredit an expert report (known as the AHTEG report) on the impacts of Terminator on Indigenous peoples, local communities and smallholder farmers.
It is important to communicate your concerns to governments around the world, and to show the collective strength and diversity of the global opposition to Terminator (the number and diversity of peoples, communities and organizations that send input is important).
The CBD will accept written comments and then synthesize your input for government delegates who will attend the meeting of the UN Working Group on Article 8(j) 23-27 January 2006 in Granada, Spain. This meeting will discuss the social, economic, and cultural impacts of Terminator, particularly on Indigenous peoples and local communities that hold traditional knowledge, and make important recommendations to the major meeting of the CBD, 20-31 March 2006 in Brazil (the 8th Conference of the Parties or COP8). This March meeting is a critical opportunity to ban Terminator technology once and for all.
The CBD Secretariat is requesting "new comments" so that it has the "widest and most up-to-date information" for consideration your concerns and your perspectives on Terminator are new to the CBD and must be considered!
Terminator seeds could be unintentionally introduced to your community either through markets or humanitarian food aid. If farmers unknowingly plant Terminator seed, it would not germinate. (Genetically modified seeds are not labeled, so it would be impossible for farmers to identify these seeds before using them.) Terminator genes could also escape in the first generation through geneflow or outcrossing, passing on sterility genes to related crops nearby which could result in unexpected yield loses.
What does it mean for your organization, tribe or community if Terminator seeds were introduced? What cultural and spiritual practices would be affected? Why is seed saving and seed sharing important to your community? How would local plant breeding and seed conservation be affected by the introduction of Terminator seeds? Would you lose trust in your own seed stock if it was contaminated with Terminator? How would loss of traditional seed varieties impact your food security and traditional knowledge? How could a farmer or community prove that contamination with Terminator had occurred? Who would you turn to for compensation? Who would be responsible and liable for the damage?
*If you would like more information on Terminator please see www.banterminator.org , www.etcgroup.org or contact the individuals listed at the bottom of this message.
* At the United Nations, Terminator is called "Genetic Use Restriction Technology" or GURTs.
SOME POTENTIAL IMPACTS OF TERMINATOR ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES, LOCAL COMMUNITIES AND SMALLHOLDER FARMERS:
Social and cultural impacts:
* The productivity and fertility of seeds is the basis of cultural life-ways of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Many spiritual systems (including specific rituals and ceremonies) and worldviews honor seed fertility. By making seeds sterile, Terminator would dishonor these systems. Many traditional knowledge systems are built around seed keeping. Indigenous peoples, local communities and smallholder farmers share and exchange saved seeds in practices that allow for continued innovations in plant breeding that are also means of maintaining traditional knowledge and practices.
* Women are the seed keepers and plant breeders in many cultures and communities. If seed saving is interrupted or eliminated through the introduction of Terminator seeds, the role of women in traditional knowledge systems and in the cultural and social life of communities could change.
Food sovereignty and self-determination:
* Biodiversity forms the basis of food security and food sovereignty for peoples and communities across the world. Biodiversity provides medicine, fuel, fodder and food, both through cultivated and uncultivated species. This biodiversity supports, and is preserved by, the application of traditional knowledge which involves seed saving.
* Indigenous peoples, local communities and smallholder farmers depend on sharing and exchanging saved seeds for their livelihoods. Peoples save seed in order to adapt seed to local conditions, and for specific nutritional and medicinal needs. Loss of local and traditional seed varieties would increase food insecurity and impact the general health of Indigenous, tribal and rural peoples.
* The unintentional use of Terminator seeds would result in yield losses for farmers and could immediately increase food insecurity and undermine the economy and self-reliance of communities.
* Any field-testing or any commercial use or other release of GURTs is a fundamental violation of the human rights of Indigenous peoples, a breach of the right of self-determination, and a threat food sovereignty and food security.
* By virtue of their human right of self-determination, Indigenous peoples have a right to food sovereignty and food security.
* Indigenous peoples, local communities and, peasants and small-scale farmers are often sidelined in debates over the introduction of new technologies.
SUPPORT THE EXISTING CBD-AHTEG REPORT ON TERMINATOR (GURTS):
Your comments can reflect, reinforce or otherwise reference the conclusions of a report on Terminator written for the CBD by a group that included indigenous representatives and others "Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group report on the potential impacts of genetic use restriction technologies on smallholder farmers, indigenous and local communities" (AHTEG report)
The AHTEG report (UNEP/CBD/SBSTTA/9/INF/6) can be seen at www.biodiv.org/doc/meeting.aspx?mtg=sbstta-09&tab=1
The AHTEG found that the potential negative effects of GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies or Terminator) far outweigh the positive impacts thus requiring the ongoing implementation of the precautionary principle to insure the rights, safety, and food security of Indigenous and local communities are not threatened.
The AHTEG report found that GURTs [Terminator] may have negative impacts on Indigenous peoples, including (among others):
1) May reduce and limit traditional seed exchange practices;
1) May reduce the knowledge and local innovation capacity of local and indigenous communities for crop improvement, threatening local food security;
1) Could precipitate the loss of local knowledge, reduce or negatively affect local agrobiodiversity, and result in a deterioration of indigenous knowledge systems;
1) Could displace traditional farming systems and the social, cultural and spiritual dimensions associated with them;
1) May cause seed dependency or crop failure through the potential misuse of unintentional use of GURTs seeds;
1) Could negatively and irreversibly create changes in the environment caused by geneflow or other problems with environmental containment; and
1) The use of GURTs as a form of biological intellectual property protection could facilitate the appropriation and enclosure of some elements of indigenous knowledge and genetic resources in a permanent and irreversible manner.
WRITING YOUR SUBMISSION:
You can present your written comments in any format you prefer. You may also send comments in the form of audiotape with recorded comments from community members, representatives or elders.
Please use the following reference in your submission so that your comments go to the right place: "Ref: SCBD/STTM/DCO/va/48601 "Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use Restriction Technologies"
We call upon the Working Group on Article 8(j) to advise the Eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP8) that GURTs is a dangerous technology that threatens biodiversity, Indigenous knowledge systems, smallholder farmers and global food security.
We call upon the Parties at the COP8 to fully consider the AHTEG Report on GURTS, and approve the Reports recommendation that governments develop national regulations to prohibit commercialization of GURTS.
In recognition of the negative impacts GURTs poses to indigenous peoples, local communities, peasants and small-scale farmers we call on the Parties to the COP8 to strengthen the recommendation of paragraph 23 of decision V/5, that no GURTS should be approved for field testing or commercial use.
In recognition of the negative impacts that GURTs pose to Indigenous peoples, the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Secretariat must ensure the full and effective participation of Indigenous peoples in all future processes of the CBD related to GURTs.
SEND YOUR COMMENTS TO (by email and/or fax if possible):
Executive Secretary, Convention on Biological Diversity
United Nations Environment Programme
FAX: 1 514 288 6588
World Trade Centre
413 Saint-Jacques Street
Canada H2Y 1N9
Please also send a copy of your submission to the Ban Terminator Campaign: [email protected] . With your permission, we would also like to post your comments on the new website www.banterminator.org when it is ready in late September. Your comments will help others understand your concerns and will inspire other communities.
OTHER ACTION YOU CAN TAKE:
In August 2005 the International Indigenous Treaty Council passed a resolution against Terminator. If you would like a copy of this resolution to use as a model for a resolution you would like to propose please contact Andrea Carmen at [email protected] or see www.treatycouncil.org
Coming Soon! www.banterminator.org for action alerts and information on Terminator. To receive information please send your email to [email protected]
Please endorse the Ban Terminator Campaign.
If you have any questions or would like some assistance, please contact Lucy Sharratt, Ban Terminator Campaign [email protected] 1 613 241 2267 (Ottawa, Canada) or Debra Harry, Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism, [email protected] 1 775 574 0248 (Nevada, USA)
If you would like clarification or information from the Convention on Biological Diversity regarding your written comments and this process, contact John Scott, Programme Officer, Traditional Knowledge in Montreal at the Convention on Biological Diversity 1 514 287 7042 [email protected]
This action alert was prepared by the Indigenous Peoples Council on Biocolonialism www.ipcb.org and the Ban Terminator Campaign www.banterminator.org
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