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

margaret lauterbach (
Sat, 03 Apr 1999 08:45:47 -0700

At 06:29 PM 4/2/99 -0800, you wrote:
>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.

I don't think so, Richard.  Americans (and probably Canadians) will pony up
the bucks for food and/or seeds for threatened populations, paying whatever
the seed producers demand, to avert mass starvation.
>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.

This other gene control also involves a gene containing BT.  Breeding BT
resistant bugs.
>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.

Richard, I thought I had a copy of the original patent in my computer, but
I don't.  As I recall, though, terminator technology can be applied to any
plant, not just a hybrid. In effect, the seedsman can "steal" your OP plants.

Margaret L