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NZ Govt. Caught In Secret Deal on Terminator Genes

Government Caught In Secret Deal on Terminator Genes

The government has been revealed to have made a deal that has set New Zealand against the rest of the world by supporting the introduction of Terminator Genes.

Earlier this week news leaked from Canada that a plan had been hatched by its representatives to overturn the de facto global moratorium on Terminator genes that are designed to render all seeds barren after the first generation. In leaked documents it was clear that Canada would block consensus if it couldn't win sufficient backing from the rest of the world.

Initially Canada was believed to working alone at the UN-backed convention in Bangkok- possibly as a front for Biotech interests in North America. But during the conference New Zealand and Australia were reported to have supported Canada in a move that will anger New Zealanders and threatens to undermine our standing in the international community.

Marion Hobbs - Minister of Environment has been challenged to front up on the issue and there is widespread support for an immediate change policy before the vote on Friday 11th February.

Terminator is an anathema to indigenous peoples, farmers and civil society as it threatens basic rights, the environment and food security. Such was the terror created by the concept in the late 1990's that industry agreed not to use it, until the current push by Canada and New Zealand to bring it in ."The government has to back down on this. It goes to the heart of our relationship with the rest of the world. It is completely contradictory to any claims the Labour Government makes for New Zealand as a caring, concerned or descent member of the world community," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment."

GE Free NZ in food and environment has also contacted Prime Minister Helen Clark and other Ministers asking them to intervene before the vote on Friday.

"We have had emails and calls from around the country and from overseas sent by people shocked that New Zealand is caught up in this deal.

"New Zealand is making a fundamental mistake that we may never live down. It is completely unethical for us to be part of this grubby arrangement to scupper protection for the world's most vulnerable people and the environment."

ENDS

References:

Jim Thomas in Bangkok for the ETC group reports that the Canadian bid to overturn the moratorium on GM Terminator Technologies (GURTS) was backed only by the Government s of New Zealand and Australia in the UN meeting

Reports from Canada:

Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

ETC Group

News Release

7 February 2005

www.etcgroup.org

Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

A confidential document leaked today to ETC Group reveals that the Canadian government, at a United Nations meeting in Bangkok (Feb 7-11), will attempt to overturn an international moratorium on genetic seed sterilisation technology (known universally as Terminator). Even worse, the Canadian government has instructed its negotiators to "block consensus" on any other option.

"Canada is about to launch a devastating kick in the stomach to the world's most vulnerable farmers - the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm saved seed," said ETC Group Executive Director Pat Mooney speaking from Ottawa. "The Canadian government is doing the dirty work for the multinational gene giants and the US government. Even Monsanto wasn't prepared to be this upfront and nasty. Canada is betraying Farmers' Rights and food sovereignty everywhere."

Terminator technology was first developed by the US government and the seed industry to prevent farmers from re-planting saved seed and is considered the most controversial and immoral agricultural application of genetic engineering so far. When first made public in 1998, "suicide seeds" triggered an avalanche of public opposition, forcing Monsanto to abandon the technology and prompting the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to impose a de facto moratorium on its further development. According to the leaked instructions to Canadian negotiators at SBSTTA 10 (a scientific advisory body to the CBD), Canada will insist on Wednesday (9 Feb.) that governments accept the field testing and commercialization of Terminator varieties (referred to as GURTS -- Genetic Use Restriction Technologies). Canada will also attack an official UN report, prepared by an international expert group, which is critical of the potential impacts of Terminator seeds on small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. In stark contrast to Canada's position, the expert report recommends that governments seek prohibitions on the technology.

In Bangkok, civil society and Indigenous Peoples are calling on the Canadian government to abandon its endorsement of Terminator and to join with other governments to prohibit the technology once and for all. Many African and Asian governments have called for Terminator to be banned and the European Union has also been supportive of the existing moratorium.

"It is outrageous that Canada is backing an anti-farmer technology and shameful that it will 'block consensus' on any other outcome. Governments from around the world must not accept this bullying tactic," says ETC Group's Hope Shand from the negotiations in Bangkok. "If Canada blocks decision-making on this issue, the moratorium will be in jeopardy and terminator seeds will be commercialized ending up in the fields of small farmers."

ENDS

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