While their neighbor to the south (Uruguay) is busy legalizing marijuana, Brazil is preparing to legalize a plant of another sort entirely—something known as Terminator seeds, which the ETC Group calls the country’s Christmas gift for Monsanto, DuPont, and Syngenta.
The seeds, which are really known as Terminator technology or suicide seeds, are genetically modified seeds that are said to prevent proliferation of GMOs by making the second generation of them sterile. Why would giant seed manufacturers like Monsanto do something so seemingly anti-GMO? Because if the second generation of seeds is infertile, farmers are forced to buy more at each planting, making them even more dependent on the seed giants.
In 2000, 193 countries signed the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, which had a de facto moratorium on suicide seeds. In Brazil, one of the countries who signed the agreement, the pressure on this moratorium is mounting.
According to The Guardian, large land owners in that massive country are pressuring the government to allow them to use the technology, saying it would only be used for non-food crops like fast-growing GM trees. Environmentalists are understandably opposed.
“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.
Companies like Monsanto, Syngenta, and DuPont are rubbing their hands together, waiting in the wings for their time to act. As GreenMedInfo suggests, they’ll likely express sympathy for the government of Brazil, feigning concern over the spread of GM tree pollen. Then, they can offer their suicide solution. Once approved in Brazil, the seed giants will slowly begin to roll out the technology wherever they can.
While none of the companies are thought to have developed the technology for commercial use yet, an approval in Brazil would no-doubt give them the green light.
The 2000 moratorium was drafted, in part, due to massive backlash from Indian, Latin American, and south-east Asian farmers and indigenous groups.
In Brazil, a Monsanto spokesman recently said he was unaware of terminator seeds being developed by his company or “any organization,” saying Monsanto “stands firmly by our commitment and has no plans or research relating to this.”
Still, their website indicates they are only committed to stopping the technology as it relates to food crops and not the tree and medicinal crops under consideration in Brazil.
If passed, Brazilian Congress could make the changes law as early as February.