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GURT (Genetic use restriction technology)


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GURT (Genetic use restriction technology)

  2. 2. Genetic use restriction technology Overview  Introduction  What is Terminator Technology?  Definition  How does it work  Impacts and risks  Short history  Why is it being developed?  Conclusion
  3. 3. Definition  Terminator technology refers to plants that have been genetically modified to render sterile seeds at harvest – it is also called Genetic Use Restriction Technology or GURTS  Terminator technology was developed by the multinational seed/agrochemical industry and the United States government to prevent farmers from saving and re-planting harvested seed.  Terminator has not yet been commercialized or field- tested but tests are currently being conducted in greenhouses in the United States.
  4. 4. short history 1998/1999 international protest against a Terminator patent from Delta and Pine 2000 De facto moratorium on the COP5 of CBD: recommendation that ..”products incorporating such technology should not be approved by parties for field testing until appropiate scientific data can justify such testing… „ 2005 Canadian Government tries to weaken the moratorium by stressing biosafety function of Terminator Technology. They try to get a case by case assessment January 2006 Granada: ad-hoc working group on Art. 8j CBD accept a recommendation paper for Curitiba with “case by case assessment” March 2006 Curitiba: A lot of protest (over all the international Ban Terminator campaign) Result: The moratorium remains without limitation.
  5. 5. Types  V- GURT (Varietal GURT)  T-GURT (Trait GURT)
  6. 6. V- GURT (Varietal GURT)  This type of GURT produces sterile seeds meaning that a farmer that had purchased seeds containing V-GURT technology could not save the seed this crop for future planting  This would not have an immediate impact on the large number of primarily western farmers who use hybrid seeds, and instead buy specialized hybrid seeds from seed production companies
  7. 7. V- GURT (Varietal GURT)  The technology is restricted at the plant variety level, hence the term V-GURT  Manufacturers of genetically enhanced crops would use this technology to protect their products from unauthorised use
  8. 8. T-GURT (Trait GURT)  A second type of GURT modifies a crop in such a way that the genetic enhancement engineered into the crop does not function untill the crop plant is treated with a chemical that is sold by the biotechnology company  Farmers can save seeds for use each year. However, they do not get to use the enhanced trait in the crop unless they purchase the activator compound  The technology is restricted is registered at the trait level, hence the term T-GURT
  9. 9. Why is Terminator a problem?  The top 10 largest seed companies control half the world’s commercial seed market.  Across the world, over 1.4 billion people, primarily small-scale farming families in the developing world, depend on farm-saved seed as their primary seed source  If Terminator is commercialized, corporations will likely incorporate sterility genes into all their seeds. That’s because genetic seed sterilization would secure a much stronger monopoly than patents — instead of suing farmers for saving seed, companies are trying to make it biologically impossible for farmers to re-use harvested seed
  10. 10. impacts and risks  Reliability for biosafety: This is 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
  11. 11. Impact of Terminator seeds on farmers?  Terminator would results in higher seed prices at a time when farmers are experiencing the worst income crisis in the history of modern agriculture.  Terminator is a major violation of the rights of farmers to save and reuse their own seeds. Through pollen movement in the first generation, Terminator genes could contaminate farmers’ crops - farmers might then unknowingly save and reuse seeds that are contaminated and will not germinate
  12. 12. Who holds patents on Terminator?  Delta & Pine Land (DPL), the world’s largest cotton seed company, which jointly holds three US patents on Terminator technology with the US Department of Agriculture.  In October 2005, DPL won new Terminator patents in both Europe and Canada.  During 2002 mansanto aquired Delta & Pine Land (DPL),
  13. 13. Will Terminator stop genetic contamination?  Industry argues that engineered sterility would offer a built-in safety feature for GE plants because if genes from a Terminator crop cross-pollinate with related plants nearby, the seed produced from unwanted pollination will be sterile – it will not germinate. But Terminator technology is a complex system involving multiple inserted genes that all work together in a sequence. Scientists warn that Terminator will not be 100% effective. The likelihood of system failure means it could never be a reliable tool for “biocontainment”. If Terminator is used for “biocontainment” and fails, it would introduce new, dangerous biosafety risks.
  14. 14. Impact to terminator technology on agro-biodiversity  The world’s agro-biodiversity depends heavily on seed saving, selecting and re-planting. This practice has resulted in crop varieties that are adapted to the local environment, soil and local pests.  This technique has also resulted in creating new crop varieties that fetch more money in the market  For example, Basmati rice of India and Pakistan. Introducing “terminator seeds” will replace the age-old practice of seed saving and can lead to the loss of traditional seed varieties
  15. 15. Socio-economic impact of terminator technology  Terminator technology can be good for the intensive farming operations in the developed world. These farms produce high-value produce and rarely save seeds for replanting making it less vulnerable to terminator technology.  But, medium, low and subsistence farming practices dominate the agricultural systems of the developing world.  These farming practices rely heavily on saved seeds and use it for replanting. If “terminator seeds” are introduced in these systems it will replace the existing seeds and force the farmers to buy seeds every season, which poor farmers from developing countries cannot afford.
  16. 16. IMPACT OF THE TERMINATOR SEED TECHNOLOGY ON THE FARMING COMMUNITY  It affects poor farmers is that they would be unable to maintain commercial varieties from their own seed stock and would be forced to return to the seed provider  This will translate into non availability or lack of seed inputs to the farmers  This will greatly affect the level of agricultural production and the farmer’s income
  17. 17. Impact to terminator technology on environment  Some research that suggests that weeds and bugs could possibly evolve into resistant organisms.  pollen escaping from the terminator crop is sterile and cannot spread to weeds or other crops.  Gene movement from crop to weed through pollen transfer has been demonstrated for GM crops when the crop is grown near a closely related weed species.  When a weed is fertilized, for example, with the terminator pollen, the new generation of seeds will bear plants, with fertile pollen.
  18. 18. Good for biotech companies, bad for farmers  Terminator technology troubles farmers throughout the developing world because they would no longer be able to save seeds to re-use from one harvest to the next.  Many poor farmers cannot afford to buy seeds each year. Instead, they save, swap and share seeds that have been developed over generations.  If farmers have no choice but to buy new seeds every year, the companies are guaranteed large profits at the expense of poor farmers' food security.
  19. 19. Why is it being developed?  The biotech companies argue that Terminator technology will prevent the contamination of non-GM crops with GM-crops. They say that if all GM varieties had the terminator trait they would not be able to spread into the environment, and so biosafety would be ensured
  20. 20. Terminator technology consists of three genes GENE I  Gene I is a repressor gene that produces a repressor protein that interacts with a binding site near Gene II. GENE II  Gene II is a recombinase gene that is controlled by a promoter. Between the gene and the promoter is a binding site for the repressor from Gene I. The recombinase gene produces a recombinase protein that is an enzyme and snips out pieces of DNA.
  21. 21. Contd.. GENE III  Gene III produces a toxin that is lethal to embryos. The gene is controlled by a late promoter, which is active only during the late stage of seed development when the embryo is developing. Between the late promoter and the toxin gene is a piece of DNA called a blocker, which interferes with the ability of the promoter to turn on the toxin gene.
  22. 22. How the Terminator terminates ? The terminator technology consists of three genes with their on/off switches : Gene I: Repressor Gene II: Recombinase Gene III: Toxin A gene for a toxin lethal to embryos (Toxin Gene) is controlled by a late promoter (LP), that is active only during the late stage of seed development when the embryo is developing.
  23. 23. How the Terminator terminates ? The terminator technology consists of three genes: In the absence of the Inducer
  24. 24. How the Terminator terminates ? The terminator technology consists of three genes: In the presence of the Inducer
  25. 25. The case of “Terminator” technology
  26. 26. Traitor technology  The expression of a specific desirable transgenic trait is dependent upon spraying a specific proprietary chemical, sold separately, often by the same company.
  27. 27. International Regulation Regarding Terminator Technology The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)  i) conservation of biological diversity;  ii) sustainableuse of its components; and  iii) fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising out of the utilizationof genetic resources The Conference of Parties (COP) The Subsidiary Body for Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA)
  28. 28. (GURT): Potential economic benefits, costs and risks Benefits Costs Risks Farmers increased productivity from improved inputs due to increased research and development (R&D) investment Increased input costs from seed purchase Misuse of monopoly powers by breeders Breeders (especially private sector) Increased appropriation of research benefits from new products Increased cost for access to gene pools of other breeders Governments Reduced investment requirements in breeding Complementary R&D investment requirements Society Increased agricultural productivity Reduced genetic diversity in fields
  29. 29. Have any plants with GURT traits been released in world ?  It is important to note that no applications have come forward for the environmental release of plants with GURT traits. This technology is currently still at the research stage in laboratories - there have been no confined research field trials or commercial applications from developers to date.
  30. 30. Benefits from the Deployment of GURTs in Crops a) Prevent gene flow from transgenics through pollen by producing sterile pollen or through seed by arresting embryo development. b) Help in containing GE pharma crops that synthesize therapeutically active compounds. c) Protect Organic Farming, since sterile pollen cannot cause cross pollination that may affect Organic Certification, though currently this is not an issue. d) Induced male sterility is an accepted tool in plant breeding to produce hybrids in otherwise difficult crops such as sorghum and mustards, and GURTs make this much easier than conventional methods.
  31. 31. Contd…  e) Arresting embryo development in such seeds would control the transmission of the seed borne pathogen to the next generation.  f) Protect the genetic design of GE crops.  g) Prevent the unauthorized or illegal cultivation of transgenic crops.  h) Since GURTs would block gene flow from transgenic crops, their incorporation into transgenics is actually in keeping with the aims of the Cartagena Protocol on Biodiversity (Article 2) and do not threaten biodiversity as alleged by activists.
  32. 32. Possible Advantages of Terminator technology  Terminator technology can also be used to limit the spread of genes from GMOs to other plants in the natural environment. This will ensure that genes from the GMOs will not get mixed with the plants in the wild.  Intellectual property protection of Biotech firms.  Reduce the propagation of volunteer plants.  Prohibit non V-GURT grain sprouting, which lowers the quality of grain.  Prevent escape of transgenes into wild relatives and prevent any impact on biodiversity.
  33. 33. Disadvantages of Terminator technology  Engineered systems is an inability of the engineered organisms to fully express a specific trait (encoded by genes). All the terminator seeds should receive a given amount of inducing agent to activate the terminator genes. Insufficient inducing agent may not trigger the genes, thereby resulting in seeds that germinate in subsequent generation.  Environmentalists are concerned about the possibility of gene transfer between genetically engineered plants and traditional, non-targeted plants  The production of sterile seeds by these plants would render the seeds useless.
  34. 34. Conclusion  Terminator seed technology will have adverse consequences on on-farm conservation and development of plant genetic resources.  Terminator technology may have both positive and negative impacts on the world’s agricultural system. In developed countries like Canada, terminator technology will not have much impact on farmers and the way they farm. But in developing and low-income countries, terminator technology might be harmful to the farmers.  Moreover, technical aspects of terminator technology design still need to be fine-tuned. These aspects need to be perfected before introducing terminator technology in the farms worldwide. Apart from this, as with any other GMO, the impact of introducing terminator technology on the world’s biodiversity is not yet known
  35. 35. contd  The technology may offer considerable incentives for increased private sector innovation in the agricultural breeding sector, but with a skewed distribution of benefits and costs. On balance, the development implications of GURTs give cause for concern, particularly from the perspective of the more vulnerable and marginalized farmers.