Terminator Seeds are Suicide Seeds

Take Action to Ban Terminator Technology in Canada


Terminator Technology genetically engineers plants to produce sterile seeds at harvest. It was developed by the multinational seed/agrochemical industry and the US government to prevent farmers from re-planting harvested seed and force farmers to buy seed each season instead. Terminator seeds have not yet been field-tested or commercialized-- but trials are currently being conducted in greenhouses in the US. These trials are now owned by Monsanto as, in August 2006, Monsanto announced it would buy the company (i.e., Delta & Pine Land) that owns this advanced Terminator Research.

Terminator is sometimes called Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURTs)-- the broad term for the use of an external chemical inducer to control expression of genetic traits.


The top 10 largest seed companies control half the world's commercial seed market. If Terminator is commercialized, corporations will likely incorporate sterility genes into all their seeds. That's because genetic seed sterilization would secure a much stronger monopoly than patents-- instead of suing farmers for saving seed, companies are trying to make it biologically impossible for farmers to re-used harvested seed.

Canadian farms of all sizes have seed and this practice is growing as the farm income crisis gets worse each year. Across the world, 1.4 billion people, primarily small-scale farming families in the developing world, depend on farm-saved seed as their primary seed source. Terminator seeds would force dependence on external seed sources and disrupt age-old practice of farmer seed selection, exchange and breeding-- centuries of indigenous and farmer seed variety development is the foundation of most of the Canadian seed stock.


Terminator is a major violation of the rights of farmers to save and reuse their own seeds. Through pollen movement in the first generation, Terminator genes could contaminate farmers' crops-- farmers might then unknowingly save and reuse seeds that are contaminated and will not germinate, resulting in unexpected yield loss. This could also happen if imported grain contains Terminator.

Farmers who depend on humanitarian food aid risk devastating crop loss if they unknowingly use food aid grain containing Terminator genes as seed. Terminator would ensure a corporate stranglehold on seeds and result in higher seed prices at a time when farmers are experiencing the worst income crisis in the history of modern agriculture. If Canadian farmers were forced to buy Terminator seeds every year, the cost would be crippling. For example, an estimated 90% of Canadian wheat is planted with saved seed-- the total annual cost to buy this seed would be $95 million dollars.


Monsanto announced (in August 2006) that it will buy Delta & Pine Land (DPL), the world's largest cottonseed company, which jointly holds three US patents on Terminator technology with the US Department of Agriculture. In October 2005, DPL won new Terminator patents in both Europe and Canada. Also, the multinational seed and agrochemicals company Syngenta is requesting a Canadian patent on its Terminator potatoes. But indigenous potato farmers in the Andes of Peru have asked Syngenta destroy this patent.

The multinational seed industry is waging a public relations campaign to promote Terminator technology as a means to stop unwanted genetic contamination from genetically engineered (GE) plants (particularly for potential use in GE trees and plants modified to produce drugs and industrial chemicals).

Escaped genes from GE plants are causing contamination and pose threats to agricultural biodiversity and the livelihoods of farmers. For example, Saskatchewan organic canola farmers are suing Monsanto and Bayer for GE contamination. www.saskorganic.com/oapf/

Industry argues that engineered sterility would offer a built-in safety feature for GE plants because if genes from a Terminator crop cross-pollinate with related plants nearby, the seed produced from unwanted pollination will be sterile-- it will not germinate. But Terminator technology is a complex system involving multiple inserted genes that all work together in a sequence. Scientists warn that Terminator will not be 100% effective. The likelihood of system failure means it could never be a reliable tool for "biocontainment". If Terminator is used for "biocontainment" and fails, it would introduce new, dangerous biosafety risks.

UPDATES January 2008:

BILL TO BAN TERMINATOR INTRODUCED: On May 31, 2007, Member of Parliament Alex Atamanenko tabled Bill C-448 "Terminator Seed Ban Act" which if passed into Law, would make Terminator illegal in Canada. India and Brazil already have bans.

MONSANTO BOUGHT TERMINATOR: In 2007 Monsanto bought US seed company Delta & Pine Land which has greenhouse trials of Terminator. In 1999, Monsanto pledged not to commercialize Terminator but now says it "does not rule out the potential development and use of one of these technologies in the future."

CANADA STILL PROMOTES TERMINATOR IN 2008 In 2005, a leaded memo revealed that our Government was trying to over-run the UN moratorium. In March 2006, public pressure forced Canada to agree to uphold the moratorium. But our Government still has not taken a stand against Terminator. Instead, the Conservative Government and the Liberal Party still defend Terminator. Federal government departments continue to support Terminator.

SYNERGA WANTS CANADIAN PATENTMultinational corporation Synerga has applied for a Canadian patent on Terminator potatoes.

GLOBAL MORATORIUM UPHELD!:In 2000, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity recommended that governments not approve Terminator for field tests or commercial use. This de facto moratorium was upheld March 2006 thanks to pressure from around the world.



A Private Member's Bill, Bill C-448, to prohibit field testing and commercialization of Terminator in Canada was introduced by Alex Atamanenko, New Democratic Agriculture Critic and MP for BC Southern Interior.

SEND A LETTER TO YOUR MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT AND THE PRIME MINISTER: Send an instant email to the PM at www.rightoncanada.ca or write your own personal letter-- find a sample letter at www.cban.ca or info@cban.ca. Ask your MP to support this bill.

Use your postal code to search for your MP at www.parl.gc.ca or contact us for help. Remember: Postage is FREE to elected officials!

DISTRIBUTE POSTCARDS: Order postcards to circulate and send to the Prime Minister: email btpostcards@usc-canada.org or call 613-234-6827 ext. 237.

ENDORSE THE CAMPAIGN: Add your group's name at www.banterminator.org

DONATE TO CBAN:Please support the campaign with a donation to the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (Make your cheque to: Sage Centre-CBAN Project)

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network
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