Science in Society Archive

Terminator Crops are here! - I-SIS Exclusive

When Monsanto announced they would give up terminator crops more than a year ago, everyone heaved a sign of relief. Meanwhile, the UK and US governments are colluding with industry to bring them back, and what's more, they have already been field tested in Europe, UK and Canada beginning in the 1990s.

Terminator technology is so named by its critics (thanks to RAFI) because it genetic engineers seeds to be sterile, for no other purpose than to protect and enforce corporate patents on GM seeds.

I-SIS discovered that Aventis' spring and winter GM oilseed rape (canola) currently field tested in the UK are actually engineered with the 'terminator technology'. Moreover, similar crops have been field tested in Europe, Canada and the US since the early 1990s, and several have been commercially released.

The technology was promoted simultaneously on both sides of the Atlantic towards the latter half of 2000. The USDA solicited public comment on the technology itself with the recommendation that it could be used to prevent gene flow. The UK government, meanwhile, carried out a public consultation exercise on a draft document, "Guidance on Best Practice on the Design of GM Crops" produced by the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment. That document presents the technology as one of the main methods for preventing gene flow, and thereby improving the safety of GM crops

The technology is ineffective in preventing gene flow, and it makes use of two very dangerous genes that should never, never be released. One is a universal cell poison, and the other scrambles genomes. Read the full story in "Killing Fields near You", this issue.