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Terminator Seeds

The Monsanto’s corporation’s Terminator technology ensures that buyers of the company’s seeds cannot save seeds from the plants they grow for future use.

By inserting a gene that causes the plants grown from Terminator seeds to produce sterile seeds, Monsanto forces its customers to buy new seeds each year.

In addition to the fact that the majority of farmers in the developing world cannot afford to keep buying seeds, a wide-scale switch to Terminator seeds would cause many varieties of plants to be lost.

Diminishing biodiversity is a serious problem, given that certain plant varieties have evolved to do well in particular climates and growing conditions.

However, since the introduction of Terminator technology, even continuing to save non-Terminator seeds does not guarantee a continual supply of viable, diverse seed because Terminator seed stock may contaminate regular seed supplies.

Terminator technology has disturbing implications for sustainability, particularly in the developing world where farmers are more reliant on saved seeds. This technology, which shifts control of food production from the individual farmer to the corporation, has already had devastating consequences.

Many farmers in India incurred large debts to purchase expensive Terminator seeds from Monsanto with the promise of exceptionally bountiful harvests that would lift them out of poverty.

The high yields did not materialize, in part because Monsanto’s seeds require more water than local seeds, which are better adapted to India’s dry climate, and also because the seeds failed to live up to the company’s pest-proof claim. Harvests failed and the farmers did not even have the option of saving seeds to try again next year.

The result was that more than 200,000 indebted Indian farmers who had been ruined by the failure of Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds committed suicide, leaving behind devastated families, now too poor to send their children to school. This tragedy has been called the “GM Genocide.”

For more information about Terminator seeds, visit the Ban Terminator Campaign website.

Ahmed, I., “Killer Seeds: The Devastating Impacts of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified Seeds in India,” GlobalResearch, 12 January 2012.
Ban Terminator, “Introduction to Terminator Technology,” n.d.
Somalinga, V., “Terminator Technology for GM Crops,” Genome British Columbia, May 2007.
Virginia Cooperative Extension, “Terminator Technology for Transgenic Crops,” n.d.

Image source: mr.bologna, Flickr 

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