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<nettime> [RRE]Terminator Technology

     [orig to "Red Rock Eater News Service" <>]

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Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 10:33:44 -0800
From: "Bob Mueller" <>
Subject: Terminator Technology


December 18th, 1998

To whom it should concern:

Hi.  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

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 sterilize
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 fertilized 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.

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."

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

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   10/18/98

(Again, I am in no way affiliated with the above web sites or any
organized "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.)

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