5 October 1999
Monsanto to stop ‘terminator’ research

MONSANTO has said it will not develop the controversial “terminator” technology.

The technique makes it possible to produce genetically modified (GM) plants that produce infertile seeds.

This would protect the investment made by the seed company, as farmers would have to buy fresh seed every year.

Farmers in the developing world depend on seed saved from one years crop to sow the next.

If GM crops had the terminator gene, they would be less useful to poorer countries, as farmers might not be able to afford new seed every year.

Monsanto has come under strong pressure from many agencies involved in world development to abandon the terminator gene.

There are also fears among various agribusiness groups in America that the European resistance to GM food may spill over to the USA.

This, combined with European resistance, is causing some farmers to consider whether they should switch away from GM seed.

That fear is exemplified in a letter to the Financial Times from a member of the board of directors of the American Council on Science and Health.

Fredric Steinberg attacks the “propaganda” campaign waged against GM technology by green organisations such as Greenpeace.