New Internationalist

Canada sows sterile seeds

Issue 378

The Canadian Government has acted shamefully. It is supporting a dangerous, anti-farmer technology that aims to eliminate the rights of farmers to save and reuse harvested seed.’ The words are those of Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser, speaking at a UN meeting in Bangkok on biodiversity in February. The 74-year-old Schmeiser became a public figure in the fight for biodiversity when he was sued by the agribusiness giant Monsanto for patent infringement. ‘Instead of representing the good will of the Canadian people or attending to the best interests of the Biodiversity Treaty,’ he has said, ’ the Canadian Government is fronting for the multinational gene giants who stand to win enormous profits from the release of terminator seeds around the world.’ Supported by the New Zealand and Australian governments, with a bunch of agribusiness lobbyists (including Monsanto, Delta & Pine Land and Crop Life International) cheering from the sidelines, the Canadian Government attempted an all-out push for field-testing and commercialization of sterile seed technologies, effectively undoing the precautionary de facto moratorium on terminator seeds adopted by governments in 1998. Fortunately a coalition of Scandinavian and Majority World countries were able to block the Canadian offensive and sustain the moratorium on anti-farmer terminator seeds. Campaigners fear that Canada and its agribusiness allies will try again at the G8 meeting in Scotland this July.

The Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration (formerly RAFI).

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