[tomato] Last word on terminator seeds....lets talk juicy tomatoes

Orchid (Tomato@GlobalGarden.com)
Sat, 3 Apr 1999 11:57:51 -0500

I found the following article while searching on the web.  It pretty much
sums up the TERMINATOR SEED situation.  Please read, write to every Federal,
State & Local official you can think of, to put a stop to this.

Having done that.....let's talk about growing juicy tomatoes on this
list....OK?  One of my patio containers has medium size tomatoes turning
ripe.  I pulled one off the other day, washed it, put some salt on it and
bit into it.  I haven't taste a real tomato in years, my taste buds almost
had a sexual experience....not like that Cr*p they sell in the supermarket.
I can hardly wait for the other 'maters to ripen....yippee!

important info below..........


The Problem of Terminator Seeds

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Food Supply Update: June 5, 1998
Seed Terminator and Mega-Merger Threaten Food and Freedom
Copyright  1998, by Geri Guidetti
There have been times in human history when the line between genius and
insanity was so fine that it was barely perceptible. In the world of
biotechnology and food, that line has just been obliterated. Announcements
made over the past 90 days suggest that an ingenius scientific achievement
and subsequent, related business developments threaten to terminate the
natural, God-given right and ability of people everywhere to freely grow
food to feed themselves and others. Never before has man created such an
insidiously dangerous, far-reaching and potentially "perfect" plan to
control the livelihoods, food supply and even survival of all humans on the
planet. Overstatement? Judge for yourself.

On March 3, 1998, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Delta
and Pine Land Company, a Mississippi firm and the largest cotton seed
company in the world, announced that they had jointly developed and received
a patent (US patent number 5,723,765) on a new, agricultural biotechnology.
Benignly titled, "Control of Plant Gene Expression", the new patent will
permit its owners and licensees to create sterile seed by cleverly and
selectively programming a plant's DNA to kill its own embryos. The patent
applies to plants and seeds of all species. The result? If saved at harvest
for future crops, the seed produced by these plants will not grow. Pea pods,
tomatoes, peppers, heads of wheat and ears of corn will essentially become
seed morgues. In one broad, brazen stroke of his hand, man will have
irretrievably broken the plant - to - seed - to - plant - to - seed - cycle,
THE cycle that supports most life on the planet. No seed, no food unless
unless you buy more seed. This is obviously good for seed companies. As it
turns out, it is also good for the US Department of Agriculture.

In a recent interview with RAFI, the Canada-based Rural Advancement
Foundation International, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) spokesman,
Willard Phelps, explained that the USDA wants this technology to be "widely
licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies." The goal,
he said, is "to increase the value of proprietary seed owned by US seed
companies and to open up new markets in Second and Third World countries."
The USDA and Delta & Pine Land Co. have applied for patents on the
terminator technology in at least 78 countries!

Once the technology is commercialized, the USDA will earn royalties of about
5% of net sales. "I think it will be profitable for USDA," Phelps said.
(Royalties? Profits? For a Department of the US Federal Government? What's
wrong with this picture?)

The Terminator Technology was created to prevent farmers from saving
non-hybrid, open-pollinated or genetically altered seed sold by seed
companies. Open-pollinated varieties of crops like wheat and rice staples
for most of the world's population are typical examples. The stated logic
for Terminator Technology is simple, really. A seed company invests money to
develop and produce new varieties of seed. It hopes to sell a lot of that
seed to recoup monies spent on crop research and seed development, and then
to realize a profit on their investment. Fair enough, it would seem, but
there are BIG concerns around the world about how much profit, how much
control many of these multinational seed companies actually seek. Many of
their proprietary seeds are no more than genetically altered versions of
older, reliable, conventionally bred strains that have been in the public
domain for many, many years. Change a gene to give a seed resistance to some
new strain of disease, the logic goes, and the seed no longer belongs to the
people to grow and save as they like, but to the seed company. In the past
several years the world community has been outraged as some multinational
seed companies have brazenly tried to claim ownership of whole species of
food plants based on the logic that they had altered a gene in a member of
that species and, hence, now owned its whole genome!

In a world of burgeoning population growth and, hence, demand for food,
giant, multi-national seed companies hope to sell a lot of proprietary,
genetically engineered seed. Food is a BIG business that will only get
bigger, and they want farmers around the world to need to come back to them,
year after year, to buy the seed and, in some cases, even the chemicals, to
grow it. Plant patents, gene licensing agreements, intellectual property
laws, investigations and lawsuits brought against farm families for
infringing on a seed company's monopoly on seed varieties are some of the
means now used to protect their interests.

The new Terminator Technology could render even these modern, legal measures
of control obsolete, as it is potentially so powerful, so effective and so
flawless in its applicability that its corporate owners and licensees will
literally have complete biological control over the food crops in which it
is applied. Seed companies have been working hard to prevent farmers around
the world from saving their own seed from plants originally grown with seed
purchased from these companies. They are also trying to find ways to
encourage farmers around the world in the U.S., Europe and especially the
huge market represented by farmers in South America, Mexico and Asia, to
switch to genetically engineered, proprietary seed instead of relying on the
eons-old practice of saving their own locally produced and conventionally
bred seed. If they can produce and offer their "improved" seed cheaply
enough to convince even poorer, Second and Third World farmers to switch,
they will have captured much of the global market. The Terminator will
ensure that this market these farmers and the communities and countries they
feed will be completely dependent on the company in order to continue to
eat.

There is another potential dark side to the Terminator. Molecular biologists
reviewing the technology are divided on whether or not there is a risk of
the Terminator function escaping the genome of the crops into which it has
been intentionally incorporated and moving into surrounding open-pollinated
crops or wild, related plants in fields nearby. The means of this
"infection" would be via pollen from Terminator-altered plants. Given
Nature's incredible adaptability, and the fact that the technology has never
been tested on a large scale, the possibility that the Terminator may spread
to surrounding food crops or to the natural environment MUST be taken
seriously. The gradual spread of sterility in seeding plants would result in
a global catastrophe that could eventually wipe out higher life forms,
including humans, from the planet.

According to USDA researchers, they have spent about $190,000 over four
years working on the joint project. (Yes, you and I supported this
research.) For its share, the Delta & Pine Land Company has reportedly
devoted $275,000 of in-house expenses, plus an additional $255,000.
Combined, these dollars are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the
potential profitability of the technology to its owners. According to USDA's
Willard Phelps, the Delta & Pine Land Co. retains the option to exclusively
license the jointly-developed technology. In its March 3rd press release,
the company claimed that the new technology has "the prospect of opening
significant worldwide seed markets to the sale of transgenic technology for
crops in which seed currently is saved and used in subsequent plantings." In
a recent communique, RAFI states: "If the Terminator Technology is widely
utilized, it will give the multinational seed and agrochemical industry an
unprecedented and extremely dangerous capacity to control the world's food
supply." That fear may be realized much sooner than anyone could have
imagined.

At the time of the March 3 announcement of the US government-supported
technology, it was common knowledge that multinational seed and pesticides
giant, Monsanto, was a minor (8%) shareholder in the Delta & Pine Land Co.
The two jointly have a cotton seed venture in China. On May 11th, a mere
nine weeks after the announcement of the Terminator Technology, Monsanto
bought the Delta & Pine Land Co. and, with it, the complete control of the
Terminator Technology. For an even bigger picture of the implications of
this acquisition, here's a summary of some published information on
Monsanto's current agricultural holdings and activities:

The purchase of Delta & Pine now gives Monsanto an overwhelming 85% share of
the US cotton seed market and a dominant global position in this crop.
On May 11th, Monsanto also announced the take-over of Dekalb, the second
largest maize (corn) company in the US.
In January of 1997, Monsanto acquired Holden's Foundation Seeds. A company
spokesman said at the time that its goal was to get its bioengineered seed
on at least half of the then 40 million acres that Monsanto had access to
via its acquisitions. It is estimated that 25-35% of US corn acreage is
planted with Holden's products. The Holden and Dekalb acquisitions make
Monsanto the dominant player in the corn market.
In November, Monsanto acquired Brazilian seed company, Sementes Agroceres.
This acquisition gave Monsanto 30% of the Brazilian corn seed business.
Brazilian farmers who have been breeding and saving their own seed for
centuries are considered primary targets for terminator and apomictic
(below) corn seed products.
On January 20th, the USDA won another patent no. 5,710,367 covering
"apomictic maize". This corn trait speeds hybrid seed production by allowing
the plant to produce hybrid clones, lowering the price of hybrid seed. Third
World farmers unable to afford more expensive hybrid seed could potentially
buy these less expensive clones. Unlike other hybrids, apomictic corn can be
regrown but its genetic uniformity (remember, clones) would make it more
likely to lose its disease resistance more frequently, forcing farmers to
buy seed more often. There are fears that Monsanto will obtain these license
rights from the USDA. Monsanto's recent corn company acquisitions and, now,
near monopoly in corn, make this a critical concern.
A Washington connection, according to RAFI: "In the past two years, a number
of high-ranking White House and USDA officials have left Washngton for the
allure of Monsanto's headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri."
"In October 1997, Monsanto and Millenium Pharmaceuticals (another US-based
genomics company) announced a 5 year collaborative agreement worth over US
$118 million, including the creation of a new Monsanto subsidiary with about
100 scientists to work exclusively with Millenium to use genomic
technologies. The exclusive agreement is not limited to a single crop or
geographic location, it covers all crop plants in all countries. Monsanto
considers the new subsidiary 'an integral part of its life sciences
strategy' and hopes to gain a competitive edge in the search for patentable
and likely 'Terminator-able' crop genes."
Monsanto has pioneered enforcement strategies for protection of its plant
patents. Much of this pioneering has been centered on its genetically
altered soybeans which have the ability to withstand spraying with the
company's leading herbicide, Roundup. (Weeds and other native plants die,
beans live.) In 1996 the company set a new precedent requiring farmers
buying its genetically engineered "Roundup Ready Soybeans" to sign and
adhere to the terms of its "1996 Roundup Ready Gene Agreement." Terms: The
farmer must pay a $5 per bag "technology fee"; the farmer must give Monsanto
the right to inspect, monitor and test his/her fields for up to 3 years; the
farmer must use only Monsanto's brand of the glyphosate herbicide it calls
Roundup; the farmer must give up his/her right to save and replant the
patented seed; the farmer must agree not to sell or otherwise supply the
seed to "any other person or entity." The farmer must also agree, in
writing, to pay Monsanto "...100 times the then applicable fee for the
Roundup Ready gene, times the number of units of transferred seed, plus
reasonable attorney's fees and expenses..." should he violate any portion of
the agreement. The farmers' outcry against the stringent inspection and
monitoring of their private property caused Monsanto to modify that part of
the agreement in 1997.
The company has used a similar licensing agreement for its genetically
engineered cotton and, according to a spokeswoman, plans to introduce
licensing agreements with all genetically engineered seeds Monsanto brings
to market. These will include Roundup Ready canola (canola oil), corn,
sugarbeets, etc. (Keep in mind that now Monsanto has Terminator Technology
to license, as well. It is applicable to all food crops according to its
primary inventor.)
Four days ago, the scope of the potential impact of the Terminator
Technology on global agriculture broadened explosively with the announcement
that American Home Products Corporation (AHP) had agreed to buy Monsanto Co.
for $33.9 billion in stock. "AHP," according to its press release, "is one
of the world's largest research-based pharmaceutical and health care
products companies....It is also a global leader in vaccines, biotechnology,
agricultural products and animal health care." Reuters reports that the
acquisition will create "a powerful pharmaceutical company with a massive
presence in the growing market for genetically engieered agricultural
products."
Actually, AHP is a family of companies including American Cyanamid, Cyamid
Agricultural Products Group, Wyeth Ayerst, and others. It is the third
largest in the US in herbicides, insecticides and fungicides but, with its
acquisition of Monsanto, it is now estimated that the combined companies
will become the largest agrochemical/life industries company in the world,
beating Swiss global giant, Novartis. It does not take a giant mental leap
to see the massive potential for the application and marketing of Monsanto's
Roundup Ready seed and licensing agreements and the Terminator Technology to
an increasing number of companies and food crops. If the Terminator
technology is not globally banned, its eventual incorporation into all
genetically engineered and open-pollinated, non-hybrid food crops is
predictable.

As most of you are aware, I have often fretted in these pages about the
vulnerabilities of our increasingly centralized, computer-based, bottom-line
driven, large corporation-dominated food production, processing and
distribution system. Extreme weather patterns, toxic waste-contaminated
fertilizers, epidemic bacterial contamination of food and the year-2000
crash of computers responsible for keeping the whole, complex system running
have been big concerns. I have warned you of the planned disappearance of
non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds. Seeds that let you retain the means of
growing your own food if you want or need to. Seeds that ensure protective
biodiversity. Seeds that may provide personal food security in insecure
times. Now the Terminator threatens even these.

Make no mistake about it's widespread global adoption of the newly patented
Terminator Technology will ensure absolute dependence of farmers, and the
people they feed, on multinational corporations for their seed and food.
Dependence does not foster freedom. On the contrary, dependence fosters a
loss of freedom. Dependence does not increase personal power, it diminishes
it. When you are dependent, you relinquish control. History is full of
examples of peoples and cultures who lost fundamental freedoms, who were
controlled by their need for food. This shouldn't happen to Second and Third
World farmers. It shouldn't happen in any of the 78 countries in which the
patent has been applied for. It shouldn't happen here.

The Terminator Technology is brilliant science and arguably "good business",
but it has crossed the line, the tenuous line between genius and insanity.
It is a dangerous, bad idea that should be banned. Period..........Geri
Guidetti, The Ark Institute

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