GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch UK welcomes move to maintain moratorium on Terminator technology

Monday 27th March 2006

Efforts led by New Zealand, Australia and Canada to overturn an international moratorium on field trails with Terminator technology (which results in sterile seed), by introducing a clause which would have allowed ‘case-by-case' testing, have been defeated at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) meeting in Curitiba, Brazil (1). However, on Friday 24th March the chairman announced that delegates had decided to maintain the current moratorium. The decision will be formally adopted in a vote on Friday 31st March.

The biotechnology industry had been promoting Terminator technology under the guise of biosafety, even though it has no effect on pollen movement. (2) In contrast, many civil society and farmers' organisations have fought the possible introduction of Terminator technology because of the potentially devastating effects of sterile seed on farmer's livilhoods. (3)

"Maintaining the moratorium on Terminator technology is very good news. Case-by-case assessments have limitations because they are unable to take into account wider dimensions of risk, such as economic intentions and implications. Whilst Terminator technology might look 'safe' in a small scale field trial, if widely applied food security would be compromised - a very dangerous prospect for the millions of farmers who rely on farm saved seed," said Dr Sue Mayer, GeneWatch UK's Director.

For further information contact:

Sue Mayer on 01298 871898 (office); or 07930 308807 (mobile)

Notes to editors:

  1. Paragraph 23 of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Decision V/5, section III, taken by the COP5 in 2000 states that "products incorporating such technologies should not be approved by Parties for field testing until appropriate scientific data can justify such testing, and for commercial use until appropriate, authorized and strictly controlled scientific assessments with regard to, inter alia, their ecological and socio-economic impacts and any adverse effects for biological diversity, food security and human health have been carried out in a transparent manner and the conditions for their safe and beneficial use validated". At a meeting of the CBD in Granada, Spain in January 2006, the Australian government, supported by the US, Canada and New Zealand proposed allowing field testing of Terminator crops assessed on a "case by case" basis.
  2. Why Terminator technology won't prevent genetic contamination. GeneWatch Background briefing; GM Contamination: can gene containment work for crops and society? GeneWatch Briefing No 34.
  3. See for example the Ban Terminator web site:

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