March 11, 2001

New Terminator Patent Goes to Syngenta

Wake-Up Call for CBD's Scientific Body Meeting in Montreal

World's Largest Agrochemical and Seed Enterprise Holds Growing Arsenal of Terminator and Traitor Technologies

Syngenta, the world's largest agribusiness firm, was formed on 13 November 2000 with the merger of AstraZeneca and Novartis. The next day the company won its newest Terminator patent, US Patent 6,147,282, 'Method of controlling the fertility of a plant.' (The patent was issued to Novartis - but the company's intellectual property goes to Syngenta.) With pro forma 1999 sales of US $7 billion, Syngenta is the world's largest agrochemical enterprise, and the third largest seed corporation.

'Syngenta's newest Terminator patent should set off alarm bells for governments concerned about biodiversity and Farmers' Rights,' said Julie Delahanty of RAFI. 'Some governments and civil society organizations (CSOs) mistakenly assume that the threat of Terminator is diminished. The reality is that the Gene Giants are winning new patents, and Terminator seeds are moving closer to commercialization,' warns Delahanty.

'Terminator technology' refers to plants that have been genetically modified to produce sterile seed; it is designed to prevent farmers from saving and re-planting their seed, forcing them to buy new seeds every year. Terminator has been widely condemned as an immoral technology that threatens global food security, especially for 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed. In 1999, due to mounting opposition to Terminator seeds, both Monsanto (now Pharmacia) and AstraZeneca (now Syngenta) vowed not to commercialize genetic seed sterilization technology.

Syngenta now controls at least six Terminator patents and a host of new patents on genetically modified plants with defective immune systems.


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