|Terminator Seeds Suffer Defeat at Global Conference (25/3/2006)|
1.Curitiba Express - Final Update on Terminator Victory
Look out in item 2 for details of the Captain Hook awards for biopiracy: For the stance they took on Terminator, and with regard to transgenic crops in general, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were granted the "evil axis" award.
1.Curitiba Express - Final Update on Terminator Victory
At a short press conference I just made the following intervention:
This victory today marks the beginning of the end of Terminator technologies, not so much because of the text adopted and rejected, but because it has been won by a uniquely broad and diverse coalition of peasants, farmers, social movements and environmental organisations who are supported by the vast majority of delegates, who I am sure are with us not only by vote, but also by heart - even if they can not express this to the extent they may wish, given their official role.
We are proud to be a member of this coalition for the future, which will have to fight for so much more than just a ban on Terminator. All over Curitiba these days you see beautiful posters saying "biodiversity is in the people". This expresses exactly what today's victory really means. 500,000 farmers in India, 120 scientists in Italy, protesters all over the world, recently staging protests in Delhi and London in front of the New Zealand embassies, indigenous communities around the globe, environmental and consumer organisations from all continents say: Sterility will never be a valid concept to maintain and enhance biodiversity and sustainable agriculture, to feed the world and to maintain food sovereignty.
And, as one argument of the industry was Terminator was needed to make GMOs safer the response is: You should never release seeds that need to be made sterile in order not to threaten the environment. We are confident that this sends a clear message to governments around the world to ban Terminator now, once and forever.
Let us celebrate not only our victory today but also the broad and bright perspective our co-operation offers to a more sustainable agriculture, a better world and to the biodiversity that includes all people on this planet.
OK - there is a certain sentimental mood now here in Curitiba.
Please try to push the news as far as you can and thanks for all the wonderful support on this!
2.Terminator Seeds Suffer Defeat at Global Conference Mario Osava
CURITIBA, Brazil, Mar 24 (IPS) - Small farmers and activists celebrated a triumph against Terminator seeds in Brazil Friday, but said they would not let down their guard, and would continue to fight the seeds.
The working group in charge of addressing the issue at the Eighth Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP8) maintained the moratorium on field trials of Terminator technology, which produces seeds whose sterile offspring cannot reproduce.
The decision is still pending a vote in next Friday's plenary session in the Mar. 20-31 conference taking place in the southern Brazilian city of Curitiba. But that will merely be a formality.
Only Australia, Canada and New Zealand tried to leave a door open, pushing for "case-by-case" evaluation of permits for field testing, which critics say would weaken the moratorium put in place in 2000 on Terminators, or GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies).
For the stance they took in this case, and with regard to transgenic crops in general, Australia, Canada and New Zealand were granted the "evil axis" award by an informal coalition of civil society groups that annually hands out the Captain Hook Awards for Biopiracy.
The coalition awarded 10 "prizes" to "biopirates" as well as 10 "cog awards for resisting biopiracy". (Cogs were ships designed to repel attacks by pirates).
The United States won the award for "most despicable" act of biopiracy, for imposing plant intellectual property laws on occupied, war-torn Iraq in June 2004, making it illegal for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law.
Swiss biotech giant Syngenta was voted the worst threat to food sovereignty, for its patent on the Terminator potato.
The global small farmer movement Vía Campesina has held near daily demonstrations since COP8 began on Monday, to demand a ban on Terminator seeds.
On Friday, it announced that it would continue holding protests in Curitiba to call for a total worldwide ban on Terminator technology.
Other activists also said they would keep up their guard, even while they celebrated the victory. "There are governments and companies that will keep trying to produce suicide seeds'," said Maria Rita Reis, with the Brazilian NGO Terra de Direitos.
GURTS, as Terminator technologies are referred to in the Convention on Biological Diversity, produce "suicide seeds" or "homicide seeds" stressed Hope Shand, research director for the ECT Group (Action Group on Erosion, Concentration and Technology), a Canada-based organisation that works to defend cultural and ecological diversity and human rights.
The commercialisation of Terminator seeds, which would make it impossible for farmers to save seeds from their harvests, would provoke enormous losses for farmers, forcing them off the land and exacerbating hunger and poverty, she maintained.
According to ECT Group estimates, soybean production in Argentina would be hit by an additional 276 million dollars in annual costs, while the cost of wheat production in Pakistan would be 191 million dollars higher.
Numerous activists emphasised that potential contamination and sterilisation of other species would have catastrophic results. There is no need for "field testing" to establish that this technology poses a threat to all life on earth, just as there is no need for field testing on the effects of torture, one activist commented.
The protests voiced by small farmers and environmentalists have fallen on more than fertile ground. Restrictions on Terminator seeds have enjoyed majority support from the outset of COP8. In the European Parliament, this position earned 419 votes in favour and a mere 15 against.
Within the Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) there is a consensus on maintaining the moratorium on field trials and commercial releases of Terminator seeds and rejecting the proposal for a "case by case" assessment, Alicia Torres, director of Uruguay's National Environment Office and head of her country's delegation to COP8, told IPS.
In the meantime, Syngenta is currently facing troubles in Brazil that go beyond acts of protest.
In addition to the occupation of its test field since Mar. 14 by close to 1,000 rural activists from Brazilian groups associated with the Via Campesina network - like the Movement of Landless Rural Workers û the transnational corporation has just been hit with a fine of one million reals (470,000 dollars) from Brazil's environmental authority.
The sanction stems from the fact that Syngenta's transgenic soybean test crops in Santa Teresa, in the southern state of Paraná, violate national laws because they are located too close to Iguacu National Park, a nature preserve.
Syngenta and Monsanto have both been consistently targeted by protesters at the parallel meetings to COP8 and by the Global Civil Society Forum, a gathering of social movements and non-governmental organisations held in tents outside the Expo Trade Centre, the venue of the official conference. (END/2006)
A broad coalition of peasant farmers, indigenous peoples and civil society today celebrate the firm rejection of efforts to undermine the global moratorium on Terminator technologies - genetically engineered sterile seeds - at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba, Brazil.
"This is a momentous day for the 1.4 billion poor people world wide, who depend on farmer saved seeds," said Francisca Rodriguez of Via Campesina a world wide movement of peasant farmers.
"Terminator seeds are a weapon of mass destruction and an assault on our food sovereignty. Terminator directly threatens our life, our culture and our identity as indigenous peoples", said Viviana Figueroa of the Ocumazo indigenous community in Argentina on behalf of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity.
"Today's decision is a huge step forward for the Brazilian Campaign against GMOs," said Maria Rita Reis from the Brazilian Forum of Social movements and NGOs, "This reaffirms Brazils' existing ban on Terminator. It sends a clear message to the national government and congress that the world supports a ban on Terminator."
"Common sense has prevailed lifting the Moratorium on the Terminator seeds would have been suicidal literally," said Greenpeace International's Benedikt Haerlin from the Convention meeting. "This is a genuine victory for civil society around the world - it will go a long way to ensuring that biodiversity, food security and the livelihoods of millions of farmers around the world are protected."
Terminators, or GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies), are a class of genetic engineering technologies which allow companies to introduce seeds whose sterile offspring cannot reproduce, preventing farmers from re-planting seeds from their harvest. The seeds could also be used to introduce specific traits which would only be triggered by the application of proprietary chemicals by the same companies.
At the CBD Australia, Canada and New Zealand along with the US government (not a party to the CBD) and a number of biotech companies were leading attempts to open the door to field testing of Terminator seeds by insisting on case by case assessment of such technologies. This text was unanimously rejected today in the CBD's working group dealing with the issue. It still needs to be formally adopted by the plenary of the CBD.
Despite today's victory, there is no doubt that the multinational biotech industry will continue to push sterile seed technology. 'Terminator' will rear its ugly head at the next UN CBD meeting in 2008. The only solution is a total ban on the technology once and for all," concluded Pat Mooney of the Ban Terminator Campaign. Now all national governments must enact national bans on Terminator as Brazil and India have done.
4.Greenpeace slams Australia for promoting GMO seeds
CURITIBA, Brazil - Environmental group Greenpeace criticized Australia on Friday for promoting the experimental use of highly controversial "terminator seeds" derived from genetically modified plants.
The non-government group gave Australia its first Flat Ball Award for its defense of a seed that critics say undermines biological diversity and creates dependence among poor farmers.
Terminator seeds come from genetically modified plants and their offspring are sterile, meaning they cannot be stored for use in future crops. Environmental activists and several developing countries say the seeds would make poor farmers throughout the world dependent on multinational companies to supply them with the seeds annually.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand have lobbied hard to reopen discussion of field testing of terminator seeds at the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity, in the Brazilian city of Curitiba.
A working group at the convention rejected the proposal on Friday. It still faces a final vote in the plenary session.
"This victory will go a long way toward ensuring that biodiversity, food, security and the livelihoods of millions of farmers around the world are protected," said Greenpeaces Benedikt Haerlin.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand had sought to lift a moratorium implemented in 2000 on the use of terminator seeds, saying the ban limits scientific research. They argued in favor of case-by-case decisions.
In addition to the cost to farmers, opponents say terminator seeds could spread their genes into conventional crops and make them sterile.
The seeds' promoters say they will help stop farmers from reproducing their GMO seeds with each harvest without paying royalties.