Sunday, May 4, 2008

Terminator Seeds the Next Global Weapon?

I just heard this today...called "'The Monsanto Song"

So, here we are...the subject of Terminator Seeds. I'm just now becoming educated about it somewhat.

So where have I been? Why have I had no idea about this issue?

Probably because for most of my life, I've not been gardening to raise my own food.

If it had not been for doing further Monsanto research, I'd never have known about this...the Terminator seeds, or V-GURTs. Supposedly, V-GURTs are a "protection" for the patent-holders of genetically-modified know, so all those greedy small farmers won't save their seeds...or "benefit" from inadvertent cross-pollination?? (Said with sarcasm)


What I just learned is that a Terminator seed is an engineered seed that has a "suicide" mechanism built in that makes it impotent beyond a single crop. It destroys itself after one crop.

Why is that a big deal?

Well, it may not seem like much to those who grow only hybrids. Hybrids never breed true a second time around anyway. But it's a death sentence to non-hybrid, or "true" seeds. It's these non-hybrid seeds that are the foundation of all the seeds we have on earth, because they produce seed after each crop that will produce repetitive crops has been done throughout the history of human agriculture. Well, until our mad science began "improving" things.

What's so wrong with a Terminator seed anyway?

First, it's engineered...not as a hybrid...crossing one variety with another, say a white geranium with a red geranium, to produce a specific trait. No, this means altering the actual gene of a plant and putting non-species genetic material...from some other species...into its code to create not a hybrid but a trans-genic.


Of, relating to, or being an organism whose genome has been altered by the transfer of a gene or genes from another species or breed: transgenic mice; transgenic plants.

It's monumental that the Terminator seeds are seeds of global foodstuffs...corn, rice, wheat, grains. We're not talking about geraniums here. These seeds have been genetically altered to include non-species genetic order to select for a trait of self-impotence. What's monumental is that this is not the natural process of any plant in nature. It's not a part of the natural workings of any plant. It's the seed vasectomy of the 21st century.

Secondly, you cannot save the seeds...they are all infertile and cannot be used to grow a further ALL.

Why is that a big deal?

After all, that's the case with hybrids anyway, right?

Transgenics are made with big investor money, money made to benefit from patenting the transgenics. Because in patenting a living thing at all, whether with altered genetics or not, you control its accessibility.

But hybrids, while sometimes "belonging" to the hybridizer (is that a word?) in a proprietary way, did not ALTER the genome of the species. Anyone could come along and cross this sort of geranium with that sort of geranium and get a hybrid GERANIUM...because they were crossing
geranium with geranium. Transgenic is a...thing...altered.

If you put genetic code from a lobster into the DNA of a geranium, in a sense you've mated two unrelated species. It would be like breeding a human with any animal, or an orangutan with a starfish...except this is real and not just some Frankenstein story. What you GET when you cross a transgenic with a true species is anyone's guess. What the natural predators are (you know...the things that keep something balanced in population naturally) for transgenics are anyone's guess. What the effects of EATING something transgenic, or perpetuating its existence, or ALLOWING IT TO REPRODUCE...IS ANYONE'S GUESS.

There are NOT enough statistics, and NEVER WILL BE, to track the PERMANENT implications of altering our world in this way. Or to justify that natural boundary's ever having been transgressed in the first place.

If free to use Terminator seeds, Monsanto would have no more worries about farmers "stealing" their patented seeds. There's no risk of their being stolen because they simply self-destruct, and cannot be used as a source for further seeds.

It goes against what all agriculture in history has striven to produce...fertility, reproduction. It goes against the cycle of eating what we need and saving the excess seed for the next year's harvest.

What are the world wide implications? The implications are DEPENDENCE.

Whoever plants with Terminator seeds, seeds whose fertility beyond the initial planting have been terminated, are DEPENDENT upon an outside supplier for yearly new supplies of seeds...a supplier such as MONSANTO...for there is no seed that can be collected from that crop with which to plant next the next season's crop.

Furthermore, the Terminator seeds were developed and then protected by a patent, in this case a patent held by a corporation ...Monsanto or one of its subsidiaries. That means that the farmers who use these Terminator seeds MUST pay to USE the seeds, beyond the price of the seeds. That means that Monsanto controls who can have the seeds, who can plant, who can eat the harvest.

From dated 2006

The United States Government has been financing research on a genetic engineering technology which, when commercialized, will give its owners the power to control the food seed of entire nations or regions. The Government has been working quietly on this technology since 1983. Now, the little-known company that has been working in this genetic research with the Government’s US Department of Agriculture-- Delta & Pine Land-- is about to become part of the world’s largest supplier of patented genetically-modified seeds (GMO), Monsanto Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri.

Here's the kicker. It's not just Monsanto who is ultimately the engineer of this sort of thing so much as the U.S. government. The U.S. government has been working for decades to HELP DEVELOP TERMINATOR SEEDS.


National Interests.

Or in clearer terms,

Food has historically been used as a screw to turn by governments as a "tool of co-operation." The facts are that every government's business is "national interests," and this equates to money or a commodity that has worth. What has greater worth than fertility...the ability for a population to continue to live and reproduce? To eat?

That is why I find all talk of over-population suspect, but that's another issue.

Don't think it's just the US that has this capability and has done this research. Rest assured that if food can wield this much power, it is an international race.

When I read that the U.S. government is the CO-ENGINEER of Terminator seeds, a lot of things began to make sense as to why corporations such as Monsanto have had such a carte-blanche power party since the 1970s. The U.S. government FUNDED the research and development of Terminator seeds in PARTNERSHIP with these corporations, through its US DEPT of AGRICULTURE.

The above article written in 2006, is something I just ran across as I try to wrap my head around this issue...well, this FAMILY of issues. It was instrumental in opening my's worth a full read. There are more articles than can even be read. It's been an issue now for some time, and has met with sizeable protests on different fronts.

It should.

I see this as a bigger threat than nuclear annihilation. I see Terminator type genetic alterations of the main foods of the world to be bigger because of the risk we run that they will inadvertently threaten the existence of UNALTERED i.e. "true" seeds the world over...from something as simple as cross-pollination. To alter the genome FOR the trait of infertility by inserting non-species genetic materials has UNKNOWN RESULTS, but PREDICTABLE DANGERS. The danger is the infection of the entire world's major food crops...once that pollen gets accidentally shared, such as in cross pollination, with unaltered crops, it's like sex...something's gonna happen. You've just shared an altered crop with an unaltered, and the result will be a SHARED GENETICS...the genetically-altered crop will produce a cross-bred with ALTERED GENETICS.

Not to get all shouty or anything, but...THIS IS BIGGER THAN A NUCLEAR THREAT.

You sterilize the world's food seeds, you have a Doomsday scenario.

To me, at least.

Please explain it to me if I'm wrong. Yes, I know some scientist has tried to offset the dangers of transgenic seeds by further altering the gene codes to include an "exploder" that would return a sterile seed to a fertile one. Uh, yeah. Like you know when you plant it if your seed is altered...unless of course, you're further BUYING some more of that patented stuff??

Please show me where there are protections built in that can't be exploited by force.

Yet this is all touted as being a necessary control...a PROTECTION. Beware of corporations bearing patents for our "protection"...

I have to ask this question:

If the Terminator seeds cross-pollinate other crops...(because as we know "bees will be bees" and the pollination range is miles and miles for adjacent or nearby crops)...then what's stopping us from "accidentally" polluting our entire food supply of crop seeds with Monsanto's frankenstein genetically-altered suicide Terminator seeds, thereby wiping out the world food supply ENTIRELY???

Or not accidentally.
This very thing has provoked actions worldwide, things such as the burning of GMO crops in India and elsewhere across the Globe. "Protection" looks very different depending upon which side of the fence a person lives.

Yes, I can see how any government can use this as a "tool" in underdeveloped nations to manipulate "national interests," and I'm ... aghast.

Isn't this bio-terrorism masquerading as "progress"??

Monsanto's not off the hook in my mind just because the U.S. government is in bed with them. Monsanto has been buying up water supplies...did you know that?? With the patents to the GMO seeds, they have control of food supplies.

Owning the "right" to the major foods of the world, and buying up water sources...

What the flipping heck??

Now that the law now exists opening Pandora's box on the patenting of living creatures, what is to stop this?

What are we going to do to defend our world food supply from becoming a government-controlled weapon, or worse yet, in becoming nearly extinct unless birthed in a petri dish??

I'm very suspicious about the current world food shortage being the result of anything but OPEC and some behind-the-door government manipulation. And I'm getting pretty sick of the farmers being the ones blamed. Please read Phelan's recent post here. I so agree.

I have a hard time wrapping my brain around politics and getting a grasp of history in the making. I'm ok in other areas, but in those and algebra, I struggle for perspective and understanding.

It's never pretty when you find out innocence was really naivete. It's my own fault for not having followed these things in the news better during these past decades. A journey is made in inches, and this has been going on a long, long time. I'm only now beginning to understand that the destination might be disaster for many.

I'm late to the answer for the question "what can we do?"

I'd like to know where to begin...


earth heart said...

Where to begin? I wish I had some answers. All I know is that getting the info out there matters and you have done so by writing about it. Keep speaking out, continue striving to be as self sustaining as possible, support seed companies that offer heirloom and organic seeds, become a seed saver. Small steps but ones we can all take.

Like Kissinger said, "Control the oil and you can control entire Continents. Control food and you control people…" That's scary. I never liked or trusted that man...obviously my instincts weren't wrong.

I hope you don't mind if I link to your post on my blog.

Wendy said...

I know it's probably too simple an answer, but what if we did what we should have been doing all along and instead of depending on corn, wheat, rice and grains for 90% of our diet, changed our eating habits to include the whole spectrum of the food pyramid?

Sharon, at Casaubon's Book, talks about eating roots as a main staple, rather than corn or wheat, and, well, that's a pretty good idea. Anyone can grow a LOT of potatoes on any amount of land. By using the tiered method, pounds and pounds of potatoes can be grown in a garbage can, and even people who live in the suburbs have space for a garbage can or two. And with all of the people I know who are gluten-sensitive, I wonder if having a diet so heavily dependent on grains is such a good thing, anyway.

I know it's too simple a solution, but the best way for the "little guy" to fight back is to stop supporting them.

It's what the local food movement is all about - having control over one's food.

Verde said...

Terminator seeds keep poor families from collecting seeds to plant the next year.

It means the entire crops of small NATIONS are the legal entity of agribusiness.

It means that agribusiness is the only one who stores up seed incase of famine. The cartoon characters wanting world domination come to mind.

What can you do? Well some folks woke up a few years ago and realized what was happening and begin specifically using seeds that were not hybredized and would return seed. These are called heirloom seeds - they can be passed from generation to generation.

Robbyn said...

earth heart, I'd be honored and thank you for the link! Yes, you're right about needing to keep the conversation alive...

Wendy, that's really interesting, and i'll have to revisit Sharon's site...I'd never thought of root veg as the main staple, but that makes sense since sweet potatoes are the staple in many societies. Thanks, and I'll check it out :)

verde, yes, I'm a big proponent of heirloom seed and will not use any seed unless it's open pollinated heirloom seed (unless we try to sprout store-bought fruit seeds just to use them up and see what we get) My main worry is exactly for the heirloom seeds becoming cross pollinated with GMO seeds, though...and who would know if it happened till it's too late? What if heirloom seeds were cross pollinated with Terminator seeds? Would it simply not produce, or would some crazy trait be carried on and then later shut the seed down? Not sure, because I'm not a botanist, but it makes me worry tha we could lose our ability to have seed that continues to produce viably

Phelan said...

Robbyn, quite the post. It can be hard for people to digest in one sitting though. I digress. I learned of this seed many years ago. If you do a little searching you can find that monsato is sueing small scale farmers. And that the UE is already being supplied with them. The only way to protect yourself is by seed saving your heritage or F2 hybrids. And hope that some day it won't become illegal to do so.

ilex said...

Gah, incredibly powerful piece, Madame Robbyn. It just gets better and better, doesn't it?

We now live on Planet Fascism. Megacorps work in intimate concert with governments, quarter-to-quarter profit is the only motivating force, and all basic human needs are privatized. Honestly, sometimes I think the only course out of this giant honking mess is non-procreation. No people, no customers, no profit to be made.

Wendy, I do agree with you. There's the issue, though, of much of the world's population not having access to arable land. We're in a population overshoot by about 4 billion humans. Grains are commodities of choice because they store well, can travel far, and fill bellies comfortably. Unless we have a radical reduction in population, grains must continue to be the staple- it's the only way to feed such vast numbers who can't feed themselves.

Kathie said...

Great post! Have you seen "The Future of Food"? I have a copy I'm happy to lend and send to you to watch.

Laurie said...

When I first began learning about gene patenting and the power that Monsatan has over our food supply, it was one of the most shocking experiences of my life. A total life changer for me, when I realized that I had to walk the talk and stop ignoring the information that was inconvenient. The best thing to do is exactly what you're doing - spread the word (and let your gummint representatives know how you feel).

TOCCO said...

I am a new reader of your blog. I learned of you through Jaydee. I absolutely loved the song. I had the video posted at my sight. But Google ditched it... I wonder how much Monsanto paid them?... The video is still available from the french tv station that produced it. It is #1 on my birthday list! Marie-Monique Robin is a brave woman to have spoken out as she did.

In that video, I learned that the GMO seeds have infected the native corns in Mexico. Soon they will no longer be able to grow native species! I would love to be a voice in stopping this! I posted the song and a link to this post on my site!

Shhhhhhhhhh I think I hear Homeland Security outside my door!!! My heirloom tomatos... take me away but don't hurt them, they're my kids future!...

dina said...

A post on one of the Yahoo Groups that I belong to just continues the nightmare:

It's about Morgellons Disease. If all of this isn't a catalyst to carefully consider the choices that we make, I don't know what is!

Do you ever just stop and ponder the things that our children are having to face - health wise? I sure do! I've got a kid being treated at our local Shriner's Hospital - and that's just one of the minor issues that we are dealing with for him.

Thanks so much for posting!