south-north development monitor SUNS [Email Edition]

SUNS #4425, Thursday 29 April 1999


Trade: From 'Terminator' to 'Traitor' (technologies) (Chakravarthi Raghavan)

Africa: Farmers urged to resist genetically modified seed (IPS, Harare)

Finance: Little progress on crisis prevention, debt relief (IPS, Washington)

Trade: Caribbean leaders step up banana lobby (IPS, Georgetown)

Britain: Welsh sneeze as global economy catches cold (Panos, Cardiff)

Guyana: Another company goes down (IPS, Georgetown)

Excerpts from some selected articles:

Trade: From 'Terminator' to 'Traitor' (technologies)

Geneva, 28 Apr (Chakravarthi Raghavan) -- As trade, agriculture and other policy-makers in developing countries are still trying to grapple with the implications of the 'Terminator' technology to prevent farmers saving their own seeds but buy seeds from transnational seed suppliers, a new range of technologies are now being patented to strengthen the monopolistic grip of a handful of Northern-based TNCs that produce and market fertilizers, pesticides and transgenic seeds.

More than two dozen patent claims have been filed for these "discoveries", dubbed as 'Traitor' technology (for negative traits bred into a seed) by the Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI), a Canada-based International NGO active in tracking and exposing such activities. RAFI says that if left unchecked, Traitor technology could by year 2010 easily dominate and control nearly 80% of the world's seed market, through "transgenic" seeds, and increasing the dependence of farmers on these seed supplies, fertilizers and herbicides and pesticides (produced and marketed by the same firms).

Calling for concerted actions across a wide-front, RAFI has advocated that governments should invoke the order public exception available to them under Art. 27.2 of the WTO TRIPS agreement, to reject patent claims for Terminator and Traitor technologies.

Also, using the mandated TRIPS review, Third World governments should also call for expanding the language of Art. 27 of the TRIPS to allow bans against patent claims, not merely on individual plant varieties, but whole technologies applied to plants such as the Terminator.

Such a broad spectrum approach to order public would create the necessary political space for some governments to insist that intellectual property over "life" is against national public morality.

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