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''Stop Terminator!'' Government Urged

GE Free NZ in food and environment: Press Release, 10 Feb 05

"Stop Terminator!" Government Urged as Canada threatens International Consensus.

New Zealand needs to take a stand supporting the international community and block moves by the Canadian government to authorise Terminator seeds.

But it's now being revealed that New Zealand is backing Canada in what is a clear betrayal of the New Zealand national interest or the public will.

An international conference in Bangkok will see a motion tabled by Canada to reinstate trials and use of Terminator genes - one of a range of Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs) that has caused international alarm because of the dire implications it has for food security and sustainable farming.

Terminator technology is the insertion of a gene sequence that renders the seeds of a plant sterile, forcing farmers to buy seeds each year and ending the right of farmers to save seeds for the next season.

Other GURTS include the so-called "Verminator" (nicknamed by the British media because it uses a gene construct from a rat) could go a step further and would require a proprietary chemical to be bought and applied before a seed would start growing at all.

Terminator has been the subject of international consensus that it is a threat to basic human rights and the food supply, and till recently biotech companies like Monsanto had agreed not to commercialise it.

Moves to authorise Terminator are a direct attack on thousands of years of agriculture that formed the basis of human civilisation. It threatens the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people around the world as well as the environment and human health.

Though it is clear that the biotech industry is incapable of controlling its products, and are failing to stop contamination from GE and pharmaceutical crops, Terminator is not a solution to these problems.

The New Zealand government must oppose the moves in Bangkok to allow Terminator technology or be guilty of what some believe would be a crime against humanity if the predicted detrimental outcomes result.

Despite New Zealand's Royal Commission on GM giving a quiet nod to Terminator genes there is very strong objection from the New Zealand Public to Terminator because of its implications.

Our government must speak up for that view and the national interest- including our farmers access to clean GM-free conventional seed, rather than serve the interests of multinational corporations seeking to control seed supplies.

As well as issues of basic human rights, sustainable farming in developing countries, and approval of GE foods by regulators without the long-term testing being demanded by scientists, there are fears of the impact on the environment from GURTS.

"Whether Terminator sequences transfer through pollen drift by accident or are deliberately introduced -the risk to global food supply is frightening. Farmers in countries that rely on seed- saving and non-chemical food production will be unable to farm, " says Claire Bleakley of GE Free NZ in food and environment. "Worse it will see chemical use sky-rocket."

Recently Iraqi farmers were banned from saving seeds under a directive from the US administration there.

"This is a wake-up call for New Zealand farmers and the public at large: companies are setting their sites on our food supply in ways that will be detrimental to the Public Good." says Jon Carapiet spokesman for GE free NZ in food and environment.

GE FREE NZ in food and Environment are calling on the New Zealand government to oppose Terminator in all international forums.

In recent times the New Zealand government has been backing the US at the WTO to force GE foods on other countries and to limit regulatory control. It's time to end that betrayal of the long-term national interest and the interest of the international community.

The government must back New Zealand farmers and the public against the threat to legitimise Terminator at the conference in Bangkok. Failure to do so may lead to even greater international campaigning by farmers and civil society than has been seen in the GE-debate to date.

STOP PRESS: NZ is Backing Terminator!!!

This from Robert Vint:

Jim Thomas in Bangkok reports that the Canadian bid to overturn the moratorium on GM Terminator Technologies (GURTS) was backed only by the Govs of New Zealand and Australia in the UN meeting this morning.

ENDS:

References:


For news coverage see:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/gmdebate/Story/0,2763,1408821,00.html

http://www.bangkokpost.com/News/09Feb2005_news19.php

http://www.greenpeace.org/news/details?item_id=738592

Text of the Canadian government's instructions to its negotiators on Terminator/GURTS follows.

"Advice on the report of the Ad Hoc Technical Expert Group on Genetic Use

Restriction Technologies (GURTS);

NEW WORDING for recommendation b) of AHTEG report > (b) In view of the current lack of data, recommend that Parties and other Governments consider the development of domestic regulatory frameworks TO ALLOW FOR THE EVALUATION OF NOVEL VARIETIES, INCLUDING THOSE WITH GURTS, FOR FIELD TESTING AND COMMERCIAL USE BASED ON APPROPRIATE SCIENCE-BASED ENVIRONMENTAL RISK/SAFETY ASSESSMENTS. In Canada's opinion the revised wording we are suggesting, strengthens the recommendation and provides for a strong scientific assessment of risk. If we are unsuccessful in obtaining these additions (indication that recommendations in the AHTEG report were not based on consensus OR agreement to have national views submitted) AND changes to recommendation "B" -- or any other outcome which clearly addresses our concern over a defacto moratorium on GURTS-- Canada is prepared to block consensus on this issue."

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