Terminator Technology or: how to create a problem Sandra Blessin

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Terminator Technology or: how to create a problem

  • Sandra Blessin

  • BUKO Agrar Koordination

  • Berlin, 22.5.2007


  • Introduction

  • What is Terminator Technology?

    • Definition
    • How does it work
    • Impacts and risks
    • Short history
  • The ban-terminator activities in Germany 2005/ 2006

  • The transcontainer project, COP9 and possible activities


  • Problems:

    • no official definition in the CBD text
    • Different components and aims
  • German campaign definition:

    • Terminator Technology is a genetic modification of organisms which eliminates or reduces the germination capacity of the following seed generation. Usually the terminator gene sequence can be activated through a on or off mechanism.


  • Our definition includes 4 components:

    • GMO
    • Germination reduces or eliminated
    • Sterile seeds
    • inducible
  • CBD: genetic use restriction technologies (GURTs)

  • FAO: Biotechnology-based switch mechanism to restrict the unauthorized use of genetic material

how does it work?

  • The Terminator Technology is basically a genetically engineered suicide mechanism that can be triggered on or off by aspecific outside stimulus (the inducer). The preferred inducer is Tetracycline (antibiotic). As the result the seeds of the next generation will self destruct by self-poisoning.

  • Usually there are 3 genes inserted. All can fail. The reliabilty of the hole construct is 80 % (estimated by R. Steinbrecher)

How Terminator works in theory (Overview from Dr. R. Steinbrecher)

impacts and risks

  • Reliability for biosafety:

  • enough for use restriction but as an affective measure to avoid GMO contamination not enough

  • Use restriction:

    • negation of farmers´rights
    • undermining of food sovereignty
    • danger for food security
    • biodiversity loss

short history

german ban-terminator activities

  • www.freie-saat.de (in german)

  • Initiated in october 2005 by the BUKO Agrar Koordination

  • Activities:

    • position paper with 35 signing organizations
    • Press conference
    • Public work: Articles in german newspaper, TV
    • Participation in Granada demonstration
    • Handover from 2359 signatures to the German Parliament
    • Action in front of Canadian Embassy
    • Lettres to EU members of parliament
    • Meeting with the Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL), institution for GMO authorization because of “Transcontainer-project”

signing organizations (1)

  • Kein Patent auf Leben!“

  • Aktion 3. Welt Saar

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL.)

  • Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Umweltbeauftragten in der Ev. Kirche in Deutschland (AGU)


  • Ausschuss für den Dienst auf dem Lande in der EKD

  • Bioland

  • Bonner AK gegen Gentechnologie

  • Brot für die Welt

  • BUKO Agrar Koordination

  • BUKO-Kampagne gegen Biopiraterie

  • Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland (BUND)

  • Bund Ökologischer Lebensmittelwirtschaft (BÖLW)

  • Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Evangelische Jugend im ländlichen Raum (BAG ejl)

signing organizations (2)

  • Bündnis für die gentechnikfreie Landwirtschaft in Niedersachsen, Bremen und Hamburg

  • Bürgerinitiative gentechnikfreies Schleswig-Holstein

  • Coordination gegen Bayer-Gefahren

  • Demeter

  • Dreschflegel e.V.

  • Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst (EED)

  • Evangelisches Bildungszentrum Hesselberg

  • Gen-ethisches Netzwerk

  • Gentechnikfreie Regionen in Deutschland

  • Germanwatch

  • NABU

  • Naturland

  • Ökologischer Ärztebund

  • Ökomarkt

  • PAN Germany (Pestizid Aktionsnetzwerk)

  • Share e.V.

  • Umweltinstitut München

  • Verein zur Erhaltung der Nutzpflanzenvielfalt (VEN)

  • Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft


Handover from 2359 signatures to the German Parliament

press action in front of the Parliament

Other ban-terminator campaigns

    • Ban terminator campaign: www.banterminator.org
    • Spain : Ecologistas en Accion
    • United Kingdom
    • Canada
    • Australia

Result of all campaigns

  • The CBD moratorium remained in the COP8 CBD in Curitiba

  • Two problems:

    • Not legally binding
    • Call for new scientific research on Terminator Technology in decision V/5 Nr. 23 and 25.

„transcontainer“- project

  • a EU-wide official project executed by 8 European Member States

  • Over all: scientific institutions and universities and two private companies: SweTree Technologies AB in Sweden (researching with trees) and the DLF-Trifolium A/S in Denmark

  • Destination crops: Canola, sugar beet, trees, aubergine and tomato

  • Aim: To enhance the acceptance of GMO.

  • Glasshouse-testing in Sweden an Denmark

  • Transcontainer-workshop 2008 in Eastern Europe


Fertility confinement of transcontainer

COP 9 and possible activities

  • Untill now nothing on the Agenda; but new attack from Canada and Australia probable

  • Possible activities:

    • Take care on the Moratorium
    • Maybe influence on the Moratorium excluding the call for scientific research
    • Watch carefully the „transcontainer“-project; side-event on COP 9
    • ...

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