Terminator and intellectual property to be discussed

2006-03-22 00:00:00

Defending biodiversity and struggling against the
onslaught of privatization of natural resources by the
multinationals " these are the concerns that must
guide the activities and positions of the peasants,
indigenous people, and social organizations that are
participating in the parallel program to the
Conference of the Parties to the International
Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-8) that is
occurring between March 23 and 30 in Curitiba

In the analysis of Silvia Ribeiro, from the Mexican
Group ETC, intellectual property and the use of
genetically-modified products, mainly the terminator
seed, are the topics that must be discussed.

"We need to unite to defend biodiversity. The question
of seeds for example, is not just important for
peasants or indigenous people, but affects all of
society", she emphasizes.

Ribeiro points out that the expansion of the
multinational corporations in the sector of seeds is
one of the crucial topics to be discussed in the
parallel activities. In 2003, according to data from
the ETC Group, ten international corporations
controlled 23% of the market of seeds. Today they
control 48%. The corporations in this sector are also
leading in the sector of agro-toxins.

Intellectual property is another topic being
highlighted in the official conference as well as in
the parallel activities. With the excuse of protecting
industrialized products they manufacture from natural
resources and of ending biopiracy, various
multinational corporations have been pressuring
governments to create patents on the animals and
plants that are typical in their countries. So every
time a rural worker wants to use the name of a
chemical property or genetic parts of a patented plant
he would have to pay a fee to the corporation.

"To register knowledge or a living organism taken from
nature means to remove it from the people, to turn it
into a commodity", Ribeiro charges. The question of
patents also includes the royalties charged for
genetically-modified seeds.

Suicide seeds

The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the
social movements point to the battle over transgenics
(or genetically-modified organisms--GMOs) as the most
important that will be fought in Curitiba. The
businesses that dominate the market of seeds have the
intention of overthrowing the moratorium on the
planting and sale of suicide seeds that was defined by
the United Nations.

According to the U.S. Agriculture Department,
Terminator technology, which creates sterile seeds
that can be used only once by the farmer and cannot be
reproduced, was created by Delta & Pine Corporation in
1998. Understanding that this type of seed would take
away the independence of farmers, various countries
and international agencies opposed its use.

Francisca Rodriguez, a member of the Chilean
organization Anamuri (National Association of Women
Peasants and Indigenous People of Chile) states that
the discussion around transgenics highlights once
again the importance of seeds belonging to farmers.
“Seeds are the basis of human food and belong to the
people. They cannot become commodities” she states.