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Canadian Official Told to "Block Consensus" on Terminator Gene Moratorium

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Issue: 26 Section: Canadian News Topics: diplomacy, gmos, food security

February 22, 2005

Canadian Official Told to "Block Consensus" on Terminator Gene Moratorium

According to documents leaked to the press, Canadian officials were instructed to initiate a lift on the de facto international moratorium on "terminator gene" technology and "block consensus" on any other option at a UN meeting on biological diversity earlier this month.

"Genetic Use Restriction Technologies" produce genetically modified crops that are sterile, thus making it impossible for farmers to save any seed.

Opponents call it a "recipe for starvation" and an attempt for corporations to tighten their control over the world's food supply. Supporters say it is a way for corporations to protect their intellectual property.

Canadian observers were surprised by their government's stand. In a letter demanding that Canada support the moratorium, the National Farmers' Union called terminator crops "the most controversial and immoral agricultural application of genetic engineering to date."

"It was a complete surprise to see this coming from Canada," Jim Thomas of the Toronto-based ETC Group was quoted as saying. "Canada's proposal could easily have been mistaken for one written by Monsanto."

Canadian Food Inspection Agency official Stephen Yarrow denied that the government was "pushing the technology," and said they were upset at the characterization. Yarrow explained that the technology needed more testing before an all-out ban could be justified.

In the end, Canada's efforts were unsuccessful, and the moratorium remained in place.

The leaked documents were reported in Europe by the Guardian but were not mentioned the Canadian media. The revelations did raise concerns in internet discussion groups on both sides of the political spectrum, however. One comment on the conservative Free Dominion website said, "We're selling starvation, aren't we?... this is sick." Comments on the left-leaning Rabble.ca chastised the CBC and other media for not covering the scandal.

The leaked documents are available on the ETC Group web site (etcgroup.org).


» Guardian: Canada backs terminator seeds

» Inter Press: Ban Endures On Terminator Seeds

» ETC Group: Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

» Scoop (New Zealand): Maori Party Appalled At Support Of Terminator Tech

» Rabble.ca discussion: Topic: Canada to back terminator technology at the UN

» Free Dominion Discussion: Canadian Government to Unleash Terminator Bombshell at UN Meeting: All-out push for commercialisation of Sterile Seed Technology

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The Dominion is a monthly paper published by an incipient network of independent journalists in Canada. It aims to provide accurate, critical coverage that is accountable to its readers and the subjects it tackles. Taking its name from Canada's official status as both a colony and a colonial force, the Dominion examines politics, culture and daily life with a view to understanding the exercise of power.

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