Re: [gardeners] "Terminator" gene

Margaret Lauterbach (
Tue, 17 Nov 1998 06:03:33 -0700

At 07:09 PM 11/16/98 -0500, you wrote:
>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
Catharine, I think tetracycline is an antibiotic sometimes prescribed for
humans.  Over exposure to it may result in its no longer being effective
against bacterial infection, and super strains of bacteria may result.  I
think, at least, that's one of the objections.  Another is that some people
are violently allergic to it.  Your post touched on most of the concerns
this technology has caused without characterizing the terminology as
vicious and cruel.  I would have so characterized it.  Margaret