[gardeners] "Terminator" gene

cvinson@mindspring.com (gardeners@globalgarden.com)
Mon, 16 Nov 1998 19:09:04 -0500

For folks following the 'Terminator' news, I got the following in an e-mail
from the Herb Growing Marketing network.... I have real concerns about the
gene technologies that "Terminator" represents, but I am having trouble with
the concept that tetracycline residue on the seed is going to poison my
'precious bodily fluids/tissues'. Am I missing something?


--The USDA is licensing internationally a technology that can put our herbs
at risk, reduce biodiversity and cause widespread famine or expensive
food crops.  Montsanto's Delta and Pine Land subsidiary is applying to
license a genetically altered technology (developed with US tax monies!)
that will cause sterility in second generation seeds. Farmers would be
forced to purchase seeds from Montsanto every year instead of saving
seeds. National applications for this technology are moving forward - or
have issued - in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Japan, South Africa, most
European countries, and probably more jurisdictions.

Scientists warn that, under certain conditions, the trait for seed
sterility will flow, via pollen, from Terminator crops to surrounding
plants, making the seeds of neighboring plants sterile.  This has two
implications.  First, farmers who do not purchase Montsanto seeds may
find that their  saved seeds are sterile, causing widespread famine and
die off of annual plants.  Heirloom strains could die off, by picking up
the inability to reproduce through cross pollination. Secondly, weeds and
wild plants which are growing adjacent to Terminator crops may also pick
up the sterility characteristics.

Secondly, the seeds will have tetracycline residues, which can alter the
probiotic balance of our bodies, those of wild animals which feed upon
the crops and soil bacteria. Since it is unlikely that such crops will be
identified in grocery stores, people will harm their bodies