Terminator Technology

 

"Technology Protection System"
(TPS), otherwise known as Terminator Technology.
This is from 1999; I'm gonna leave it here.

My name is Bob Mueller. I'm not a paid activist, nor am I really an activist at all, aside from the fact that I've been jostled out of complacency enough to write this alert. I am, however, an ordinary citizen who is quite unsettled by one specific issue: U.S. Patent 5,723,765, entitled "Control of Plant Gene Expression". The patent covers technology referred to as a plant "Technology Protection System" (TPS), otherwise known as Terminator Technology.

My goal is simple: to share my concern with you, in the hope that you will be alarmed enough to more completely educate yourself regarding this matter. For if I can accomplish this, I am convinced, you will surely ACT.

The USDA, spending public money, has developed a technology whereby seeds can be stripped of their ability to propagate. They are in the process of patenting the process worldwide on behalf of Monsanto, through a subsidiary (Delta and Pine Land Company).

 

The driving force behind the Terminator technology is the ability for Monsanto, and Delta and Pine Land Co., to protect their "inventions" from being "duplicated" unlawfully, which, granted, sounds appropriate and fair.

The result, however, will be to replace natural crops worldwide, with genetically enhanced, superior, high yield crops. Superior, that is, except for the fact that they can no longer reproduce themselves, effectively forcing farmers worldwide to buy their seeds annually from Monsanto...the world's only supplier.

The patent applies to ALL PLANTS.

This is the ultimate in Capitalism. We're going to remove nature's ability to propagate herself, so we can charge money for that privilege.

However, I only wish this were the full extent of the issue.

The part that pushes my button; the part that really unnerves me, is the probability that, for all their careful planning, this genetically altered organism will share its suicidal genes with OTHER plant species.

Most children know about the "birds and the bees" ... Indeed, Martha L. Crouch, Associate Professor of Biology at Indiana University, has published a series of papers specifying how the resulting castrated plants WILL be able to sterilise nearby normal species, via the spread of Terminator pollen. Not only that, but how these plants will be able to actually *pass* the toxin gene to other plant species through cross-pollination:

When farmers plant the Terminator seeds, the seeds already will have been treated with tetracycline, and thus the recombinase will have acted, and the toxin coding sequence will be next to the seed-specific promoter, and will be ready to act when the end of seed development comes around. The seeds will grow into plants, and make pollen. Every pollen grain will carry a ready-to-act toxin gene. If the Terminator crop is next to a field planted in a normal variety, and pollen is taken by insects or the wind to that field, any eggs fertilised by the Terminator pollen will now have one toxin gene. It will be activated late in that seed's development, and the seed will die. However, it is unlikely that the person growing the normal variety will be able to tell, because the seed will probably look normal. Only when that seed is planted, and doesn't germinate, will the change become apparent. In most cases, the toxin gene will not be passed on any further, because dead plants don't reproduce. However, under certain conditions I will discuss later, it is possible for the toxin gene to be inherited.

http://www.bio.indiana.edu/people/terminator.html

 

Yet this "product" has been virtually assured of being passed as safe, in the USDA's own words: "These approvals are expected because there appear to be no crop or food safety risks to the new technology. There also appear to be no environmental risks."

http://www.rafi.org/translator/termtrans.html

Now why would the USDA come to this conclusion on a technology that has only been tested by those having a vested interest in its commercial success?

Could it be because it's worth an estimated 1.5 billion dollars a year in licensing fees alone, and the USDA is LICENSING the technology to Monsanto?

Awesome economics on a global scale! Patent has been applied for in 87 countries.

Please, please, go to the following web page, and read the data... both sides of the story. There are many more potential problems with this technology than I have outlined here. Follow the links. Assure yourself that you are, indeed, awake, for you may be tempted to think this is merely a bad dream -- or a science-fiction story.

http://www.rafi.org/usda.html

If you are as affected by the nature of this venture as I was, at the very least, please use the RAFI site to model a letter of protest that will be sent simultaneously to the Secretary of the US Department of Agriculture, the Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Research Service, the Chair of the US House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, and the Chair of the US Senate Agriculture Committee.

This technology has NOT yet been commercialized. We are, in fact, in the uncommon position of being able to say "NO" before it becomes widespread -- pun intended.

I hope I have convinced you to examine this issue. As a concerned individual, I thank you for your time.

Bob Mueller. E-mail: bobm@lightspeed.wa.com

(I am in no way affiliated with the above web sites or any organised "campaign" against this technology. I write to inform. Please feel free to forward this notice to your family and friends. Post where appropriate. However, I ask that this message be posted or forwarded in its entirety, without editing.) Spirit of Life, Perth, Western Australia. Web Site: http://www.spirit-of-life.com.au

Added November 23, 1999

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