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Canadians Call on Government to Defend Moratorium on Terminator Seeds

Six-year Global Moratorium Under Threat at UN Meetings.

March 20, 2006-- For Immediate Release

Ottawa March 20, 2006. As a critical meeting of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) begins today in Curitiba, Brazil, thousands of Canadians and hundreds of organizations across the country are calling on Environment Minister Rona Ambrose to defend a moratorium on Terminator seed technology.

Terminator technology refers to the genetic engineering of seeds to produce plants with sterile seeds. The CBD enacted a de facto moratorium on Terminator technology in 2000, recognizing the threats that this technology poses to the environment, to global food security, and to the livelihoods of more than 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed around the world. This moratorium is now in danger. Canada first attempted to overturn the CBD moratorium on Terminator in February 2005 at a UN meeting in Bangkok. There are fears Canada will try again in Brazil.

Canada's position on Terminator seed technology has hit a nerve with Canadians, who don't feel they've been consulted. Giuliano Tolusso of Agriculture Canada was recently quoted as saying "We haven't necessarily actively consulted farmers". Faris Ahmed of USC Canada, an Ottawa based international development organization, says Canadians can't accept that. "In whose name is the delegation speaking, and whose interests are they serving?", he said.

"The government of Canada saw how angry Canadians were at proposed legislation to take away Canadian farmers' ability to save, re-use, and exchange seeds. That's nothing compared to the reaction you will get if you try and impose sterile seeds on us," said Colleen Ross, Women's President of the National Farmers Union. "These plants are engineered to grow dead seeds. This technology has zero benefit to farmers. It only serves one purpose: to force farmers to buy seeds every year from seed companies who will increase their profits at our expense. Terminator wheat alone will cost Canadian farmers an additional 100 million dollars per year."

The 44,000 farmers of Quebec's Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA), the National Farmers Union, and the Canadian Organic Growers have all declared themselves opposed to Terminator. Last week, the 200,000 member Canadian Federation of Agriculture passed a resolution requesting an assessment of Terminator's impacts on farmers.

The Canadian Ban Terminator campaign -- led by ETC Group, Inter Pares, National Farmers Union and USC Canada -- is holding a public forum in Ottawa on Monday March 20, where Terminator technology will be "put on trial". Hosted by CBC journalist Bob Carty, the trial will feature testimonies from world renowned scientist Vandana Shiva and Percy Schmeiser, the Saskatchewan farmer who fought Monsanto all the way to the Supreme Court. Government and industry representatives have also been invited.

"Terminator technology is another example of corporate profits being placed ahead of people and life itself," said Mr. Schmeiser. "Where is the justice when the biotech industry's bottom line is placed ahead of a billion people?"


For media inquiries:
Stewart Wells - National Farmers Union (306) 773-6852 or (306) 741-7694
Faris Ahmed - USC Canada (613) 234-6827 ext. 223

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