cj-Geri Guidetti: Seed Terminator and Mega-Merger Threaten Food and Freedom

1998-06-12

Richard Moore

From: "Adkins, Gerald" <•••@••.•••
To: "'•••@••.•••'" <•••@••.•••
Subject: FW: [Fwd: TERMINATOR TECHNOLOGY THREATENS OUR LIVES:
              NO SEED - NO FOOD-UNLESS U BUY MORE SEED-]
Date: Thu, 11 Jun 1998 14:37:56 -0700

Richard, have you seen this one yet??  Jerry

G. C.  Adkins, M.S.
Human Resources Director
Saint Martin's College, Lacey, Wa.  98503-1297
ph:  (360) 438 4495 (direct line)
fx::  (360) 412-6199

  only when the last tree has died
  the last river has been poisoned
  and the last fish caught
  will we realize that we cannot eat money
                 The Cree

 ----------
 From:         R. J. Tavel, JD[SMTP:•••@••.•••]
 Sent:         Thursday, June 11, 1998 1:15 PM
 To:   •••@••.•••

 Subject: [Fwd: TERMINATOR TECHNOLOGY THREATENS OUR LIVES:NO
   SEED-NOFOOD-UNLESS U BUY MORE SEED-]


       Lest you scoff at the notion that that the NWO is trying to
       control the world's food supply, you won't doubt it after
       reading this. Note- in case anyone finds themselves in a
       foul mood after reading this, the phone number of Delta &
       Pineland (perpetrators of this crime) is
       (601) 742-4000. If anyone happens to get their email
       address, please let me know what it is, I think I'd like to
       sign them up on a few of the world's most prolific
       listserves...

                     Food Supply Update: June 5, 1998

        Seed Terminator and Mega-Merger Threaten Food and Freedom

                    Copyright © 1998, by Geri Guidetti

       There have been times in human history when the line between
       genius and insanity was so fine that it was barely
       perceptible. In the world of biotechnology and food, that
       line has just been obliterated. Announcements made over the
       past 90 days suggest that an ingenius scientific achievement
       and subsequent, related business developments threaten to
       terminate the natural, God-given right and ability of people
       everywhere to freely grow food to feed themselves and
       others. Never before has man created such an insidiously
       dangerous, far-reaching and potentially "perfect" plan to
       control the livelihoods, food supply and even survival of
       all humans on the planet. Overstatement? Judge for yourself.

       On March 3, 1998, the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
       and the Delta and Pine Land Company, a Mississippi firm and
       the largest cotton seed company in the world, announced that
       they had jointly developed and received a patent (US patent
       number 5,723,765) on a new, agricultural biotechnology.
       Benignly titled, "Control of Plant Gene Expression", the new
       patent will permit its owners and licensees to create
       sterile seed by cleverly and selectively programming a
       plant's DNA to kill its own embryos. The patent applies to
       plants and seeds of all species. The result? If saved at
       harvest for future crops, the seed produced by these plants
       will not grow. Pea pods, tomatoes, peppers, heads of wheat
       and ears of corn will essentially become seed morgues. In
       one broad, brazen stroke of his hand, man will have

       irretrievably broken the plant - to - seed - to - plant - to
       - seed - cycle, THE cycle that supports most life on the
       planet. No seed, no food-unless-unless you buy more seed.
       This is obviously good for seed companies. As it turns out,
       it is also good for the US Department of Agriculture.

       In a recent interview with RAFI, the Canada-based Rural
       Advancement Foundation International, US Department of
       Agriculture (USDA) spokesman, Willard Phelps, explained that
       the USDA wants this technology to be "widely licensed and
       made expeditiously available to many seed companies." The
       goal, he said, is "to increase the value of proprietary seed
       owned by US seed companies and to open up new markets in
       Second and Third World countries." The USDA and Delta & Pine
       Land Co. have applied for patents on the terminator
       technology in at least 78 countries!
       Once the technology is commercialized, the USDA will earn
       royalties of about 5% of net sales. "I think it will be
       profitable for USDA," Phelps said. (Royalties? Profits? For
       a Department of the US Federal Government? What's wrong with
       this picture?)

       The Terminator Technology was created to prevent farmers
       from saving non-hybrid, open-pollinated or genetically
       altered seed sold by seed companies. Open-pollinated
       varieties of crops like wheat and rice-staples for most of
       the world's population-are typical examples. The stated
       logic for Terminator Technology is simple, really. A seed
       company invests money to develop and produce new varieties
       of seed. It hopes to sell a lot of that seed to recoup
       monies spent on crop research and seed development, and then
       to realize a profit on their investment. Fair enough, it
       would seem, but there are BIG concerns around the world
       about how much profit, how much control many of these
       multinational seed companies actually seek. Many of their
       proprietary seeds are no more than genetically altered
       versions of older, reliable, conventionally bred strains
       that have been in the public domain for many, many years.
       Change a gene to give a seed resistance to some new strain
       of disease, the logic goes, and the seed no longer belongs
       to the people to grow and save as they like, but to the seed
       company. In the past several years the world community has
       been outraged as some multinational seed companies have
       brazenly tried to claim ownership of whole species of food
       plants based on the logic that they had altered a gene in a
       member of that species and, hence, now owned its whole
       genome!

       In a world of burgeoning population growth and, hence,
       demand for food, giant, multi-national seed companies hope
       to sell a lot of proprietary, genetically engineered seed.
       Food is a BIG business that will only get bigger, and they
       want farmers around the world to need to come back to them,

       year after year, to buy the seed and, in some cases, even
       the chemicals, to grow it. Plant patents, gene licensing
       agreements, intellectual property laws, investigations and
       lawsuits brought against farm families for infringing on a
       seed company's monopoly on seed varieties are some of the
       means now used to protect their interests.

       The new Terminator Technology could render even these
       modern, legal measures of control obsolete, as it is
       potentially so powerful, so effective and so flawless in its
       applicability that its corporate owners and licensees will
       literally have complete biological control over the food
       crops in which it is applied. Seed companies have been
       working hard to prevent farmers around the world from saving
       their own seed from plants originally grown with seed
       purchased from these companies. They are also trying to find
       ways to encourage farmers around the world-in the U.S.,
       Europe and especially the huge market represented by farmers
       in South America, Mexico and Asia, to switch to genetically
       engineered, proprietary seed instead of relying on the
       eons-old practice of saving their own locally produced and
       conventionally bred seed. If they can produce and offer
       their "improved" seed cheaply enough to convince even
       poorer, Second and Third World farmers to switch, they will
       have captured much of the global market. The Terminator will
       ensure that this market-these farmers and the communities
       and countries they feed-will be completely dependent on the
       company in order to continue to eat.

       There is another potential dark side to the Terminator.
       Molecular biologists reviewing the technology are divided on
       whether or not there is a risk of the Terminator function
       escaping the genome of the crops into which it has been
       intentionally incorporated and moving into surrounding
       open-pollinated crops or wild, related plants in fields
       nearby. The means of this "infection" would be via pollen
       from Terminator-altered plants. Given Nature's incredible
       adaptability, and the fact that the technology has never
       been tested on a large scale, the possibility that the
       Terminator may spread to surrounding food crops or to the
       natural environment MUST be taken seriously. The gradual
       spread of sterility in seeding plants would result in a
       global catastrophe that could eventually wipe out higher
       life forms, including humans, from the planet.

       According to USDA researchers, they have spent about
       $190,000 over four years working on the joint project. (Yes,
       you and I supported this research.) For its share, the Delta
       & Pine Land Company has reportedly devoted $275,000 of
       in-house expenses, plus an additional $255,000. Combined,
       these dollars are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the
       potential profitability of the technology to its owners.

       According to USDA's Willard Phelps, the Delta & Pine Land
       Co. retains the option to exclusively license the
       jointly-developed technology. In its March 3rd press
       release, the company claimed that the new technology has
       "the prospect of opening significant worldwide seed markets
       to the sale of transgenic technology for crops in which seed
       currently is saved and used in subsequent plantings." In a
       recent communique, RAFI states: "If the Terminator
       Technology is widely utilized, it will give the
       multinational seed and agrochemical industry an
       unprecedented and extremely dangerous capacity to control
       the world's food supply." That fear may be realized much
       sooner than anyone could have imagined.

       At the time of the March 3 announcement of the US
       government-supported technology, it was common knowledge
       that multinational seed and pesticides giant, Monsanto, was
       a minor (8%) shareholder in the Delta & Pine Land Co. The
       two jointly have a cotton seed venture in China. On May
       11th, a mere nine weeks after the announcement of the
       Terminator Technology, Monsanto bought the Delta & Pine Land
       Co. and, with it, the complete control of the Terminator
       Technology. For an even bigger picture of the implications
       of this acquisition, here's a summary of some published
       information on Monsanto's current agricultural holdings and
       activities:

       * The purchase of Delta & Pine now gives Monsanto an
       overwhelming 85% share of the US cotton seed market and a
       dominant global position in this crop.

       * On May 11th, Monsanto also announced the take-over of
       Dekalb, the second largest maize (corn) company in the US.

       * In January of 1997, Monsanto acquired Holden's Foundation
       Seeds. A company spokesman said at the time that its goal
       was to get its bioengineered seed on at least half of the
       then 40 million acres that Monsanto had access to via its
       acquisitions.
       It is estimated that 25-35% of US corn acreage is planted
       with Holden's products.
       The Holden and Dekalb acquisitions make Monsanto the
       dominant player in the
       corn market.

       * In November, Monsanto acquired Brazilian seed company,
       Sementes Agroceres. This acquisition gave Monsanto 30% of
       the Brazilian corn seed business. Brazilian
       farmers who have been breeding and saving their own seed for
       centuries are
       considered primary targets for terminator and apomictic
       (below) corn seed products.

       * On January 20th, the USDA won another patent-no.
       5,710,367-covering "apomictic maize". This corn trait speeds
       hybrid seed production by allowing the plant to produce
       hybrid clones, lowering the price of hybrid seed. Third
       World farmers unable to afford more expensive hybrid seed
       could potentially buy these less expensive clones. Unlike
       other hybrids, apomictic corn can be regrown but its genetic
       uniformity (remember, clones) would make it more likely to
       lose its disease resistance more frequently, forcing farmers
       to buy seed more often. There are fears that Monsanto will
       obtain these license rights from the USDA. Monsanto's recent
       corn company acquisitions and, now, near monopoly in corn,
       make this a critical concern.

       * A Washington connection, according to RAFI: "In the past
       two years, a number of high-ranking White House and USDA
       officials have left Washngton for the allure of Monsanto's
       headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri."

       * "In October 1997, Monsanto and Millenium Pharmaceuticals
       (another US-based genomics company) announced a 5 year
       collaborative agreement worth over US $118 million,
       including the creation of a new Monsanto subsidiary with
       about 100 scientists to work exclusively with Millenium to
       use genomic technologies. The exclusive agreement is not
       limited to a single crop or geographic location - it covers
       all crop plants in all countries. Monsanto considers the new
       subsidiary 'an integral part of its life sciences strategy'
       and hopes to gain a competitive edge in the search for
       patentable - and likely 'Terminator-able' crop genes."

       * Monsanto has pioneered enforcement strategies for
       protection of its plant patents. Much of this pioneering has
       been centered on its genetically altered soybeans which have
       the ability to withstand spraying with the company's leading
       herbicide, Roundup. (Weeds and other native plants die,
       beans live.) In 1996 the company set a new precedent
       requiring farmers buying its genetically engineered "Roundup
       Ready Soybeans" to sign and adhere to the terms of its "1996
       Roundup Ready Gene Agreement." Terms: The farmer must pay a
       $5 per bag "technology fee"; the farmer must give Monsanto
       the right to inspect, monitor and test his/her fields for up
       to 3 years; the farmer must use only Monsanto's brand of the
       glyphosate herbicide it calls Roundup; the farmer must give
       up his/her right to save and replant the patented seed; the
       farmer must agree not to sell or otherwise supply the seed
       to "any other person or entity." The farmer must also agree,
       in writing, to pay Monsanto "...100 times the then
       applicable fee for the Roundup Ready gene, times the number
       of units of transferred seed, plus reasonable attorney's
       fees and expenses..." should he violate any portion of the
       agreement. The farmers' outcry against the stringent
       inspection and monitoring of their private property caused
       Monsanto to modify that part of the agreement in 1997.

       * The company has used a similar licensing agreement for its
       genetically engineered cotton and, according to a
       spokeswoman, plans to introduce licensing agreements with
       all genetically engineered seeds Monsanto brings to market.
       These will include Roundup Ready canola (canola oil), corn,

       sugarbeets, etc. (Keep in mind that now Monsanto has
       Terminator Technology to license, as well. It is applicable
       to all food crops according to its primary inventor.)

       Four days ago, the scope of the potential impact of the
       Terminator Technology on global agriculture broadened
       explosively with the announcement that American Home
       Products Corporation (AHP) had agreed to buy Monsanto Co.
       for $33.9 billion in stock. "AHP," according to its press
       release, "is one of the world's largest research-based
       pharmaceutical and health care products companies....It is
       also a global leader in vaccines, biotechnology,
       agricultural products and animal health care." Reuters
       reports that the acquisition will create "a powerful
       pharmaceutical company with a massive presence in the
       growing market for genetically engieered agricultural
       products."

       Actually, AHP is a family of companies including American
       Cyanamid, Cyamid Agricultural Products Group, Wyeth Ayerst,
       and others. It is the third largest in the US in herbicides,
       insecticides and fungicides but, with its acquisition of
       Monsanto, it is now estimated that the combined companies
       will become the largest agrochemical/life industries company
       in the world, beating Swiss global giant, Novartis. It does
       not take a giant mental leap to see the massive potential
       for the application and marketing of Monsanto's Roundup
       Ready seed and licensing agreements and the Terminator
       Technology to an increasing number of companies and food
       crops. If the Terminator technology is not globally banned,
       its eventual incorporation into all genetically engineered
       and open-pollinated, non-hybrid food crops is predictable.

       As most of you are aware, I have often fretted in these
       pages about the vulnerabilities of our increasingly
       centralized, computer-based, bottom-line driven, large
       corporation-dominated food production, processing and
       distribution system. Extreme weather patterns, toxic
       waste-contaminated fertilizers, epidemic bacterial
       contamination of food and the year-2000 crash of computers
       responsible for keeping the whole, complex system running
       have been big concerns. I have warned you of the planned
       disappearance of non-hybrid, open-pollinated seeds-seeds
       that let you retain the means of growing your own food if
       you want or need to-seeds that ensure protective
       biodiversity-seeds that may provide personal food security
       in insecure times. Now the Terminator threatens even these.

       Make no mistake about it-widespread global adoption of the
       newly patented Terminator Technology will ensure absolute
       dependence of farmers, and the people they feed, on
       multinational corporations for their seed and food.
       Dependence does not foster freedom. On the contrary,
       dependence fosters a loss of freedom. Dependence does not

       increase personal power, it diminishes it. When you are
       dependent, you relinquish control. History is full of
       examples of peoples and cultures who lost fundamental
       freedoms-who were controlled-by their need for food. This
       shouldn't happen to Second and Third World farmers. It
       shouldn't happen in any of the 78 countries in which the
       patent has been applied for. It shouldn't happen here.

       The Terminator Technology is brilliant science and arguably
       "good business", but it has crossed the line-the tenuous
       line between genius and insanity. It is a dangerous, bad
       idea that should be banned. Period..........Geri Guidetti,
       The Ark Institute

 **********************************************************************

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       Supply Updates. To be placed on Geri Guidetti's free Food
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       Mailing address: The Ark Institute, PO Box 142, Oxford, Ohio
       45064






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