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NZ's Terminator Stance Appalling

11 February 2005

The Soil and Health Association is appalled that New Zealand is pushing to effectively reverse the ban on terminator technology at a UN meeting today. The aim of terminator technology is to make seed sterile, preventing the choice of farmers and gardeners from saving seed for next seasons crops. Canada is leading the charge and Australia and New Zealand appear to be joining in the call to remove the ban, rather than cementing it.

Considering the public opposition to such technology, it is strange that the current Government should take this line said Steffan Browning, Co-chair and spokesperson of Soil & Health. This technology would be a major tool for the few big seed companies to control food supplies around the world. Ultimately it would reduce options for 1.4 billion seed saving farmers worldwide according to ETC Group an international social and environmental justice organisation, to who the report on Canada's intentions was leaked.

Organic growers and many other small growers have taken pride in the strains of seed they have developed and the heritage seed lines they have maintained. The enormous risks, should seed sterility spread, must be treated in a precautionary way, said Mr Browning. Instead Canada and our government are saying there is not consensus so it must be able to be considered for release.

The Canadian instructions to their staff at the meeting in Bangkok later today is to block consensus on supporting a ban on terminator technology. The technology has been described as the most controversial and immoral agricultural application of genetic engineering so far. In fact where risk is unknown, but effects may be major, the sound approach is to tread extremely carefully and maintain some form of ban.

Soil & Health call on the government to instruct the New Zealand team to encourage their Australian and Canadian friends to reconsider and work with consensus which would likely enforce the ban. The world will be a better place for it and New Zealand can maintain its clean green reputation said Mr Browning.

ENDS

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