Re: Politics and food...ARGH!!! was RE: [tomato] Re Caspian Pink

Richard Yarnell (
Fri, 2 Apr 1999 18:29:45 -0800 (PST)

Let's clear something up: there are two patented schemes being distributed.

One is dubbed the "terminator" gene which is injected into the seed stock
so that seed produced from the next crop will not germinate.  This product
is intended to prevent seed savers from saving seed and is dangerous, in
my view, on two accounts.  The first is that it is possible the gene will
find a way to infect related crops.  The second is that many "third world"
farmers count on planting saved seed to subsist.  Many cannot afford to
buy new seed every year.  And if the terminator gene is introduced into
most or all commercially produced seed, and if there is a natural or
political cataclysm which disrupts normal seed production or distribution,
some folks may get very hungry.

The second gene(s) render plants immune or resistant to specific
herbicides.  This technology is intended to permit farmers to treat crops
for weeds without killing the crop.  If this gene gets into the
environment and crosses over to plants we don't like, things could get
dicey.  Controlling weeds on a large scale could become expensive,
difficult, or require massive amounts of herbicides.

I'll support Catherine's suggestion that _any_ accusation should be backed
up with fact, not conjecture.  And honest disagreement can be couched in
civil terms.

>I'm going to try and keep this brief.....a few things I've just got to say
>about what is rapidly becoming an acrimonious exchange about a) tomato
>pedigrees and provenance, b) individual's "agendas" on this list, c) global

>In other words, I am *very* sensitive to anybody accusing *anybody* of
>distributing "bad seed". That kind of accusation crosses the line in my book
>and had better be backed up with hard evidence before it's made.

I don't think the terminator technology has claimed to increase
productivity. It is intended to protect the originator of a hybrid by not
allowing the plant to produce viable seed.  In other words, it extends any
plant patent indefinitely if it doesn't obviate the need for a patent in
the first place.

>For the record, I am seriously opposed to the whole "terminator technology".
>I believe it is both a dangerous and a poor solution to the need to increase
>crop productivity.

The Caspian Pink, the new red menace!   Been there, done that, cold war is