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SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE  June 2005

SCIENCE-FOR-THE-PEOPLE June 2005

Subject:

Terminator® defn

From:

Robt Mann <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Science for the People Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Tue, 14 Jun 2005 15:06:23 +1300

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (55 lines)

>Terminator technology is the use of genetic engineering to produce seeds
>that can
>be used only once.

        The Terminator® tag has been a main brand of Canadian activists
(who more recently changed their name from RAFI to some less memorable
brand).  Could there be some people who think some seeds can be used more
than once?
        One defining characteristic of the plant kingdom is that an
organism of that kingdom develops from an embryo.  Sometimes embryos can
'split' and produce, more or less simultaneously, more than one plant; but
can any seed produce a 2nd plant much later than the first?  Once an embryo
has grown into a plant, can it much later be used again?  I doubt it.
        Better language therefore to define the 'Terminator' concept is:
the use of genetic engineering to produce seeds intended to grow into
plants which, if they form seed, will form sterile seed.

        The first point to note about this appalling concept is that it is
not so new as might appear.  For practical purposes, nobody would try to
grow a crop from the F1 hybrids of (esp.) maize sold by Pioneer HiBred (a
subsidiary of E I du Pont de Nemours).  For a half-century the 'hybridity'
of such commercial F1 hybrids, and the practical uselessness of the next
i.e F2 generation, has in effect prevented seed-saving in a good part of
the overdeveloped world.  To extend the prevention of seed-saving to poorer
parts of the world, by novel GM methods designed to confer sterility rather
than excessive variability, is wicked; but it isn't as new as some would
like to think.
        I cannot understand why anyone reviewing this topic would not
reference the excellent Martha Crouch 'How The Terminator Terminates' which
remains a very good account of the particular version envisaged in the
Delta & Pine / USDA patent.
        Other similar morbid visions have been generated since the Delta &
Pine nightmare.  It may not be easy to discern which, if any, of these
monster visions has been realised in actual plants.  But anyhow all such
concepts should be banned before any gang comes a legal application to
release any.
        Liebe Cavalieri, under-rated early critic of GM (notably in his
book 'The Double-Edged Helix'), advocated, soon after the invention of the
essential techniques for GM, that the Nobel cttee should declare that no
Nobel prizes would be granted for expts using these dangerous methods.  I
have always agreed with this, and still think Cavalieri gave the right
moral lead there.  The fact that it was ignored does not decrease its
wisdom.  Similarly, the relevant international & national authorities
should declare that 'terminator' seeds will not be allowed, and therefore
no applications to release them will be entertained.  It is a disgrace to
my country that our officials colluded with Canadian officials at the
recent mtg in Thailand to keep open the option of 'case by case'
applications for such Terminator GMO releases.  The grossly incompetent
minister Marian Hobbs should be purged from the Queen's ministry for such
wrongdoing.  But while we're about it, let us asap counter-attack on the
'hybridity' racket which has gone much too far already.

R
R

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