Delta and Pine Land

Nominated for Other (specify below)

Monday 27 March 2006

Reasons for this nomination

Extreme Makeover Award:

For vowing, since 1998, to commercialize Terminator technology. Initially, D&PL promoted genetic seed sterilization for use in the South to prevent farmers from re-using seed. After massive protest, the company changed its tune and said Terminator was primarily intended for Northern farmers. Now the company is greenwashing Terminator by promoting it as a biosafety tool to contain gene flow - for farmers everywhere!

Supporting info

The world's largest cottonseed company based in Scott, Mississippi (USA), Delta & Pine Land co-owns, with the US Department of Agriculture, the original patent describing a genetic modification technique to render seeds sterile. D&PL recently published a glossy brochure on Terminator technology (which the company refers to as 'Technology Protection System') entitled Providing the Potential to Enhance Biosafety & Biodiversity in Production Agriculture. The brochure extols the virtues of seed sterilization as a way to increase biosafety and biodiversity and to provide more choice to farmers! The logic is difficult to follow, but the idea is that companies will be more willing to invest in plant breeding - resulting in more plant varieties, presumably - if they can be assured of a higher return on their investment. The way to assure increased profit is to force farmers to return to the commercial seed market for every planting. D&PL is the only seed company that has publicly and consistently embraced Terminator, though the reasons it provides to the public for doing so have undergone several transformations over the last eight years. A recent report from ETC Group reveals the most likely reason D&PL is doggedly pursuing seed sterilization technology: if Terminator were commercialized, the extra seed costs for farmers - in just seven countries that ETC Group considered in its investigation - could easily exceed US$1.2 billion per year.