Biotech-> Bio-TYRANNY ?

Ian Goddard (
Sun, 07 Jun 1998 16:11:39 -0400

The following report makes a seemingly compelling
case for banning a type of genetically altered
seed, known as the "Terminator Technology" (TT).

I'd like to see counter arguments to it
before I make up my mind. Here's the
picture the report painted for me:

In a nutshell, the TT causes a genetically
altered crop to yield only seeds that will
NOT grow. This ensures that farmers cannot
resell hybrid strains and that the farmers
cannot produce their own seeds and thereby
become independent of the seed company.

Concern focuses on the possibility and apparent
plan of the major seed companies to convert all
agriculture to crops "dead-ended" by a TT genetic
dead-seed sequence, which would mean that all
farmers and the people they feed would be depen-
dent on the few seed companies to supply seeds
for the next years harvest, and these companies
seem to be merging into one. In short, if TT
crops took over, no one could grow their own
food from the seeds that they themselves grew.

But could TT crops take over? Maybe so...

Concern also focuses on the possibility that
TT genetic information will spread to other
crops in areas where farmers had chosen NOT
to use TT controlled crops, thereby slowly
forcing them under the control of the seed
companies because their crops now increasingly
yield dead seeds. In short, a vision of global
domination by a few seed companies is presented
in the cited report as a possibility. Reading
about the merging of these companies into
larger entities fits into such a scenario
and takes it to the extreme Supreme Monopoly.

Even short of nightmare of total food control
by an evil monopoly is the concern of a seed-kill
genetic sequence being set loose into the gene
pools of various human life-sustaining crops.
The process of seed-to-crop-to-seed... has
been and is what has keeps humans alive!
A genetic code that breaks that cycle
could have devastating repercussions.

SO, is this just anti-technology paranoia, or is
there real reason here to be concerned and maybe
even to call for the outright prohibition of TT?

It's obvious that if each farmer chooses to
purchase TT controlled seeds, it's their choice,
and that's freedom. True, but people CAN choose
to become slaves, particularly if they can't see
exactly how their choices now will lead to that.
If every farmer thinks, "I'll do the TT seeds be-
cause they are RoundUp resistant, so I can kill
all weeds," no one farmer chooses to become a slave
(each assuming other seeds would still be around),
but because all other non-TT seeds went out of
business, All the farmers choose slavery!

So X might in fact not be able to sucker any one
farmer to purchase slavery, and yet X could sucker,
and only sucker, them All, so long as each assumes
other farmers will support non-TT seed companies
to the extent they even consider that they need
other seed options to exist to be free farmers.


"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its
opponents and making them see the light, but rather because
its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows
up that is familiar with the idea from the beginning."

Max Plank - Nobel physicist

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual.
Those who deny individual rights cannot claim
to be defenders of minorities." Ayn Rand