- Monsanto is moving swiftly to finalize
its control over the Terminator technology. The company may extract an
exclusive license from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) within weeks.
RAFI is initiating an urgent internet-based international campaign to
stop the USDA - Monsanto negotiations before it's too late. A special
WWW page has been set up at http://www.rafi.org/usda.html to enable anyone
with internet access to send a customized message to the USDA asking it
to cease negotiations and bury this anti-farmer, anti-biodiversity technology.
Additional contact details are provided below.
- A Monsanto subsidiary, Delta & Pine
Land (D&PL), is currently negotiating with the USDA to exclusively
license the US Government's interest in the controversial Terminator technology
patent, a genetic technique that renders farm-saved seed sterile. The seed-sterilizing
technology - developed with US taxpayer dollars - will prevent farmers
from saving seed from their harvest, forcing them to return to the commercial
seed market every year.
- The Terminator patent (US # 5,723,765)
is jointly owned by D&PL and the USDA. Under US law, since D&PL
worked with USDA to develop the technology, the company has the option
to negotiate an exclusive license. Hoping to find a gullible international
public, Monsanto's PR machine in Brussels, New Delhi, Harare, St. Louis,
and points in between, are massaging jittery governments and publicly trying
to distance the company from the Terminator technology by referring to
it as "conceptual" and "not yet proven." But the
company's move to negotiate an exclusive license with USDA confirms that
Monsanto is eager to commercialize Terminator seeds.
- Despite international controversy boiling
over in at least two UN agencies rather than engage in public dialog, a
leaked internal memo by Deputy Administrator K. Darwin Murrell reveals
that USDA hopes to quietly manage controversy over the patent. The memo
warns USDA employees that Terminator research is "a sensitive issue
that requires an extra level of review" to help "avoid potential
political and legal pitfalls." But the USDA insists that the Terminator
is a beneficial technology and confirms that its scientists are themselves
interested in developing the seed sterilizing technique as platform to
host a package of "stacked" traits in genetically engineered
- SAY NO TO TERMINATOR!
- RAFI invites you to join an international
e-mail campaign being initiated today to protest the licensing and commercial
development of the Terminator technology. RAFI has set up a special web
page (http://www.rafi.org/usda.html) that automatically sends a customized
e-mail to US Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman (also see address information
below). We urge you to write to US Department of Agriculture officials
to demand that USDA cease licensing negotiations and abandon all international
patent applications on a dangerous and immoral technology that should never
see the commercial light of day.
- RAFI is urging government institutions
to hold public inquiries on the alarming rate of seed industry consolidation,
and to take steps to safeguard - not eliminate - the fundamental right
of farmers to save seed and breed crops.
- RAFI is also calling for protest over
the fact that public research funds were used to develop a technology that
will bring no agronomic benefit to farmers, and no benefits to consumers.
The Terminator technology is designed simply to increase seed industry
profits by forcing farmers to return to the commercial seed market every
- Global Issue
- The potential impact of the Terminator
technology goes far beyond US borders. It is an international issue, with
global implications. Delta & Pine Land says that it will target the
use of Terminator seeds in the South, where over 1.4 billion people - primarily
poor farmers - depend on farm-saved seed as their primary seed source.
Monsanto, which recently merged with American Home Products, is the world's
second largest seed corporation and the number one agrochemical corporation.
- The owners of the Terminator patent have
indicated that they will apply for patents in 87 countries worldwide. The
patent is pending at the European Patent Office, in Canada, Australia,
Japan and South Africa. USDA should be asked to abandon all international
patent applications, and to revoke Terminator patents that have already
issued, on the basis of public morality as provided in Article 27(2) of
- The Terminator technology is the subject
of controversy and debate worldwide. For example:
- In May, the Conference of the Parties
to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP IV) recommended that the
precautionary principle be applied to the Terminator technology. COP IV
also directed its scientific body to examine the technology's impact on
farmers and biodiversity. In light of the Biodiversity Convention's ongoing
assessment, USDA should cease negotiations that will lead to its commercial
- India's agriculture minister Som Pal
told the Indian parliament in August that he has banned the import of seeds
containing the terminator gene because of the potential harm to Indian
- By majority vote, the Dutch Parliament
recently moved to oppose the European Patent Directive by appealing to
the European Court of Justice. The Terminator patent is one of the key
issues that prompted the Dutch to renew objections to the Patent Directive
that was passed by the European Parliament earier this year.
- Negotiations between USDA and Monsanto
are now underway, it is important to act now! Stop Monsanto's bid to license
and control the dangerous Terminator technology. E-mail messages and/or
faxes should be sent to the following USDA officials and members of Congress.
To see sample letters, and automatic sending options, go to RAFI's web
- The Honorable Dan Glickman,
- Secretary of Agriculture
- United States Department of Agriculture
- 200-A Whitten Bldg.
- 1400 Independence Ave., SW
- Washington DC 20250
- tel: 202 720-3631
- fax: 202 720-2166
- Dr. Floyd P. Horn, Administrator
- USDA Agricultural Research Service
- 302-A Whitten Building
- 1400 Independence Ave., SW
- Washington DC 20250
- Tel: 202 720-3656
- Fax: 202 720-5427
- The Honorable Robert F. Smith, Chair
- House Agriculture Committee
- 1126 Longworth Bldg.
- Washington DC 20515-3702
- Tel: 202 225-6730
- Fax: 202 225-0917
- The Honorable Richard G. Lugar, Chair
- Senate Agriculture Committee
- 306 Hart Senate Office Bldg.
- Washington DC 20510-1401
- Tel: 202 224-4814
- Fax: 202 224-1725
- Hope Shand
- Research Director
- Rural Advancement Foundation International
- New address:
- c/o Center for Public Service
- Gettysburg College
- Box 2456
- Gettysburg, PA 17325
- Tel: (717) 337-6482
- Fax: (717) 337-6499