Before the holidays, lawmakers in Brazil were poised to approve genetically-modified seeds known as “suicide seeds”, or Terminator technology. The global community was watching with mouths agape as the country stood to break a moratorium signed by 193 countries in 2000. The ETC Group called it a Christmas gift to seed giants like Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont. But at the last minute, Brazil put the brakes on the measure and postponed it until February.
The Brazil Judicial Commission will discuss the issue again in a few months. Whether they are waiting for attention to be drawn away from the issue before they make their move, or if they had last-minute shopping to do isn’t clear. What is clear, however, is that the country stands to forge into new territory if they decide to approve the technology that could ultimately be the undoing of the 2000 moratorium.
“Brazil is the frontline,” explained Maria Jose Guazzelli of Centro Ecologico. “If the agro-industry breaks the moratorium here, they’ll break it everywhere.” And with that domino effect, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities that terminator technology could soon find its way into the food supply.
Suicide seeds, or those that use Terminator technology, are sold by seed-makers as a solution to the fear that genetically-modified seeds will spread uncontrollably to neighboring fields and eventually across entire landmasses. The seeds are “engineered for sterility”. In other words, they cannot reproduce after the first generation. Sure, this could mean they won’t spread, but it also means the seed giants will have a hold on the market.
As GMWatch reports:
“The risk, according to biologists, is when (not if) the modified plant pollinates natural plants and passes on externally controlled sterility. The other risk is that all seeds will become controlled by corporations, so that seed saving becomes impossible. As the last 150 years have shown, when corporations control a market, things die and people go broke.”
At the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in 2000, 193 countries signed a moratorium on Terminator seed technology. If Brazil decides to allow these seeds in their country, the moratorium is in jeopardy.
At issue in Brazil are tree crops. Hoping to plant huge swaths of GM eucalyptus trees, the country isn’t (yet) looking to use suicide seed technology in food products. But as we know, these seed companies merely need a crack in the door to push themselves in and make themselves at home.
It’s not too late to show the Brazilian government you stand in solidarity against suicide seeds. You can sign a petition here at Change.org.