Genetic Use Restriction Technologies

By: Staff Reporter
GURT, also called terminator technology, is a biotech based strategy that prevents seeds from germinating in the next growing season unless treated chemically by the seed company prior to planting.
Agriculture Bytes

When seeds of crop varieties containing terminator genetic manipulation are purchased from the company and planted, they germinate and grow normally but produce seeds that do not germinate when saved by the farmers for sowing in the following season. Thus, healthy and high yielding plants are genetically commanded to produce ‘sterile’ seeds preventing the farmers to use them for the next season’s planting. The technology was first developed by the Delta & Pine Land, a multinational seed company, and the US Department of Agriculture. If commercialised, ‘terminator’ would compel farmers to purchase fresh seeds from the company every year. In the Indian context, it will not only further damage the agricultural biodiversity but also eliminate small and marginal farmers.

Multinational companies argue that since farmers compulsorily purchase high yielding hybrid seeds as the hybrid plant seeds are not uniform and their production capacity decreases in successive seasons, it is better that assured production through GURT is provided. However, in a regime where farmers traditionally exchange seeds within indigenous frames, advent of GURT would effectively and monopolistically control farming cycles. It is noteworthy that India opted to enact its sui generis system (PPVFR Act 2001) for protection of crop varieties as required under the WTO-TRIPS provisions. The International Agricultural Research Centre, operating under CGIAR, decided in 2000 against the use of this technology and India was the first country to block its entry. The Government of India has further strengthened this action through Protection of Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act, 2001.

Extract: National Biodiversity Action Plan, Ministry of Environment & Forests

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