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NZs Reputation on Line for Backing Terminator Tech

New Zealand 's Reputation on the Line For Backing Terminator Technology

The world community will never be ready for Genetic Use Restriction Techniques (GURTS) or 'Terminator Technology' that is being developed by Monsanto. New Zealand's is putting its reputation at risk by supporting it.

“Terminator seeds” are widely viewed as a threat to food security and to the livelihoods of millions of growers, (see www.banterminator.org). Terminator is just one of a range of sterilisation techniques called “GURTS” (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies) being developed to protect profits. The potential impact on fragile ecosystems is enormous and a major threat to the countries biodiversity.

“Terminator seeds are tantamount to a crime against humanity. The technology has the potential to disrupt the natural cycles of life that have sustained our species through millennia” says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

“It is vital our government keep faith with developing nations, indigenous peoples, and growers throughout the world, by supporting a moratorium on such diabolical use of gene technology, or risk New Zealand becoming a pariah state lacking any credibility as an ethical or fair-minded member of the international community”.

The stance New Zealand's will take will form part of the discussions at today's stakeholder meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Wellington.

The world community is saying let's take time to stop at this threshold and re-examine the complex threat to natural bio -systems, the world’s staple food supply, trees, animals and people.

To legitimise Terminator seeds is to deny future generations self-sufficiency by forcing all farmers to buy new seeds each year. The world community is saying stop and think about it. New Zealand must respect that.

"Moving to commercial sterilisation of seeds is part of a process that risks allowing multi-national corporate’s to control who can afford to farm. It could even be used as a political weapon and determine who lives and dies,” says Claire Bleakley president of GE Free (NZ) in food and environment.

“Terminator is a menacing exploitation of the people’s right to grow and save seed that many consider “God” given. Established traditional seeds are the life blood of a community, they belong to everyone, they have been protected by our ancestors and saved for us to pass on to future generations and must be protected.”

New Zealand prides itself as a nation that has some shared values and will speak up for what is right in contentious issues. The Nuclear Free stand made this world safer. New Zealand representatives to the Convention on Biodiversity must not destroy our standing or betray the shared values of New Zealanders. We must support the established moratorium wanted by the international community and move to ban Terminator Technology.

ENDS


References:
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) wishes to invite
interested groups or individuals to attend a meeting on Monday 27 February to
exchange views on issues to be discussed at two forthcoming meetings of the
Convention on Biological Diversity:
Eighth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on
Biological Diversity (COP 8), to be held in Curitiba, Brazil, from 20 - 31
March.

Third Meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (MOP),
to be held in Curitiba, Brazil, from 13 to 18 March.

The meeting will be hosted by the Environment Division of MFAT at the
Ministry's head office on Lambton Quay.

Date: Monday 27 February

Time: 12:50 - 4:30 pm

Venue: Level 12, HSBC Tower, 195 Lambton Quay, Wellington

It would be appreciated if those interested in attending this meeting
could confirm their participation by email jonathan.curr@mfat.govt.nz
or telephone (04) 439 8442.
NZ’s Backing for Monsanto’s “Terminator” seeds Prompts Global Battle for Ban GE Free Press Release www.gefree.co.nz

The decision by US company Monsanto to commercialise "Terminator" gene technology to creates sterile seeds that farmers cannot replant, has shocked communities around the world. The move has prompted a global campaign to have Terminator banned (see www.banterminator.org), and has put the spotlight on the New Zealand government’s shocking support for Terminator despite worldwide opposition.

The New Zealand government refuses to accept that there has ever been a de-facto moratorium on Terminator established by governments in 2000, and is backing the biotechnology industry's attempt to remove it.

"The New Zealand government's stance is a betrayal of basic values that most New Zealanders hold dear, and brings enormous shame," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.

In October 1999, then-CEO of Monsanto, Robert Shapiro, wrote in an open letter to the head of the Rockefeller foundation, "I am writing to let you know that we are making a public commitment not to commercialize sterile seed technologies, such as the one dubbed ‘Terminator.’” But now Monsanto has changed its plans and says it will introduce Terminator in non-food crops. Monsanto’s change of heart shows that its promises are not to be trusted, and that ‘Terminator’ technology must be banned.

GE Free NZ in food and environment is amongst over 300 organisations to sign up in support of the ETC Group's petition for all nations to come to consensus and block the deliberate creation of seed that becomes infertile after the first generation.

'Terminator' and other GURTS (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies) are widely seen as a threat to sustainability, food security and the livelihoods of billions of people reliant on food from seed saved each year for replanting the next, and the technology is widely considered a crime against humanity.

At a recent subsidiary meeting of the Convention on Biological Diversity (known as the Working Group on 8j), Australia, backed by the New Zealand government introduced text recommending that Terminator technologies be approached on a “case by case risk assessment” basis. This language echoes Monsanto’s new ‘pledge’. The intention behind the ‘case by case’ approach is to see Terminator plants regulated just like any other GMO – ignoring the uniquely devastating societal impacts of seed sterility.

"Backing Terminator puts us on the wrong side of history and on the wrong side of the battle for global social justice and sustainability," says Mr Carapiet.

"Terminator is a fundamental threat not just to farmers and the environment but also to social justice and food security. Terminator is an anathema to Christian and most other religious traditions, and to Maori and indigenous peoples around the world. The Labour lead government and MP’s from the Progressive, New Zealand First and United Future Parties, must stop this betrayal of the common good and ensure New Zealand support the ban on Monsanto's Terminator technology", says Mr Carapiet.

Terminator technology was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and US seed company Delta & Pine Land to prevent farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed, forcing them to buy new seeds each season. The technology has never been field tested and is not yet commercially available, although Delta & Pine Land is now testing Terminator plants in greenhouses and vows to commercialize them.

After delaying for many years, the European Patent Office has recently granted a patent on this technology.

The next stage of the battle is expected at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Curitiba, Brazil (March 20-31 2006).

"The world is watching and New Zealand must keep faith with the peoples of the world or see our standing in the family of nations forever undermined." says Mr.Carapiet


ENDS

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