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USDA co-owner of "Terminator seed" gene patents

Posted By: miynd
Date: Wednesday, 15-Aug-2001 11:05:41
www.rumormillnews.com

how is this any different from presidential cabinet members owning stock in a company over which industry they hold influence? this reeks of conflict of interest, and any person sufficiently cynical can see the nefarious used to which this technology may be put.
note also that citizens are repeatedly finding themselves left with little option other than appealing to the UN to oppose gross governmental offenses and abuses, while at the same time being opposed to world governance by the same. but wait, the next step is to make the populace desirous of enjoying benefits enabled by this new technology. anticipate the use of Terminator seeds in the so-called "war against drugs" in south america, and the infection of coca crops with 'suicide seed.'
am i not rightly outraged over this matter?

this is one frog in the pot that feels the temperature rising {hopping out}.

US Agricultural Department Must Abandon Terminator Technology

Why is USDA ignoring the public outcry against suicide seeds?" asked Shand.At the meeting, secretary Glickman did not reveal any new information about the USDA's position on terminator or biotechnology, but said that he would be personally involved in reviewing the situation. "We anxiously await a response and positive action from Glickman," said RAFI's Shand.

The USDA is co-owner of a US patent (5,723,765) on genetic seed sterilisation, the product of collaborative research with Delta & Pine Land, a Mississippi-based seed company which is in the process of being acquired by Monsanto. USDA is currently negotiating to license its patent to Delta & Pine Land-a requirement of its collaborative research agreement. In addition to in-house research, USDA has supported research on suicide seeds at Purdue University (Indiana, USA).

US agriculture department refuses to abandon terminator technology

Canada, Aug 06:
Two days of contentious debate on terminator has ruptured the US Department of Agriculture's (USDA) advisory board on agricultural biotechnology. Terminator technology, the genetic engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds, has been widely condemned as a dangerous and morally offensive application of agricultural biotechnology, because over 1.4 billion people depend on farm-saved seeds.
USDA ignited the worldwide controversy in March 1998 when it won the first of three patents on genetic seed sterilisation, which it holds jointly with Delta & Pine Land -the world's largest cotton seed company. At its second meeting on July 26-27, the 38-member advisory board learned that the USDA has decided not to unilaterally terminate its contractual agreement with Delta and Pine Land, despite the fact that they have the legal option to do so. Instead, the board was given the option of exploring restrictions on the exclusive licensing of its terminator patents to Delta & Pine Land. In the end, however, all licensing restrictions will have to be mutually agreed upon by both the USDA and Delta & Pine Land.

"Taking this issue to the advisory board and calling for public comment on Terminator was a giant charade, and a mockery of the democratic process," said RAFI research director Hope Shand. "Apparently, the USDA had already decided that abandoning the Terminator was not an option," she said.

At the recent advisory board meeting, the agency revealed that an official public comment period on agricultural biotechnology, from March 30-July 21, 2000 yielded 213 comments. Of the comments received, 207 were negative towards biotechnology, while 162 comments called on USDA to ban and abandon its work on Terminator technology.

"There is no public support for Terminator, because it's anti-farmer and benefits only the corporate seed industry," concludes Shand. Despite intense opposition from some members of the advisory board, the group discussed a possible caveat to the licensing agreement, though even this condition must first be accepted by the seed enterprise.

"Faced with almost total global opposition to Terminator from the United Nations (UN), scores of national governments, scientific institutions, and a commitment by the USDA not to use the technology, the advisory board considered a proposal that Delta & Pine Land agree not to apply Terminator to heirloom seeds and existing varieties," Shand reports.

"Delta & Pine Land has no interest in heirloom seeds. By definition, heirloom seeds and existing varieties are not transgenic anyway. Infected with the suicide sequence, any variety becomes "new". This option is inane and nonsensical," Shand said.

"USDA obviously favours private gain over the public good and the rights of farmers," said Michael Sligh, a member of the advisory board and RAFI-USA's director of sustainable agriculture. "All members of the advisory board have 30 days to submit their views in writing, but USDA has already concluded that abandoning the patents and condemning the technology is not an option," he said. RAFI and its sister organisation, RAFI-USA, met with secretary Glickman and senior USDA officials several times in the past year. At every meeting, the officials expressed embarrassment about the technology and vowed that the USDA would not support further Terminator research nor permit its use in breeding programs for public release.

"We advised them to abandon the patents and to adopt a policy prohibiting public funding of genetic seed sterilisation," Michael Sligh recalls, "Their response was always that they wanted to use the deal as 'leverage' on the company to protect the pubic interest, secretary Glickman needs to tell the world why this deal is being cut," asserts Julie Delahanty of RAFI.

"During the UN Biodiversity Convention meetings in Nairobi in May, the delegates agreed to a moratorium on all field testing and commercialisation of Terminator and other similar technologies. Many countries requested an outright ban on Terminator, and others expressed the concern that Terminator could be used as a trade weapon to force them to obey US trade and patent laws.

Some countries even see Terminator as a form of biological warfare since poor farmers could become dependent on seeds that they are prohibited from saving. To date, nobody in the US administration has offered a convincing excuse for giving the technology the go-ahead," concludes Delahanty.

Secretary of agriculture Dan Glickman took the helm of USDA in March, 1995. During his watch USDA's agricultural research service applied for and received three Terminator patents with Delta & Pine Land. "Terminator is a bitter biotech legacy to leave to the world's farmers," notes Shand, "And that's how Glickman's USDA will be remembered, unless the agency reforms its pro-Terminator policy," she said.

RAFI (The Rural Advancement Foundation International) is an international civil society organisation based in Canada. RAFI is dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and to the socially responsible development of technologies useful to rural societies)

Copyright 2000 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.




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AN EXPLANATION OF THE FACTIONS