Catholic development agency Progressio launches a new campaign tomorrow, against Terminator technology - the genetic modification of plants to make their seeds sterile Unless Terminator technology is stopped it could strike yet another blow to the ability of 1.4 billion of the world's poorest farmers to feed themselves. The seeds of Terminator plants do not grow and therefore would further erode farmers' traditional practice of saving seeds from harvest to plant the following year. Farmers would instead have to buy new seeds each year, which would be costly and increase their reliance on seed companies. Fernando Ruiz, Progressio's development worker in Quito, Ecuador, said: "Indigenous peasant farming families depend on what they grow. If they can conserve their seeds, it means they have independence and the ability to produce their own food. When they start to buy their seeds from agricultural shops they lose agro-biodiversity and independence. Now we are starting to eat the things that they sell us in seed shops. We are not eating what we grow on our own land. We have to buy the food that we could instead grow in our own earth. This is absolutely ridiculous." Progressio is also concerned that Terminator could damage agricultural biodiversity. The international agri-business companies developing the technology justify it as a means of preventing GM cross-contamination, but research shows Terminator genes may still spread to other crops. The spread of Terminator technology to indigenous agricultural systems could force indigenous farmers to abandon their traditional role as stewards of biodiversity. Farmers would no longer be able to select, save, share and replant seeds, a practice that is responsible for the existence of thousands of plant varieties adapted to local soils and climates, and resistant to local pests. Progressio's Say no to Terminator seeds: Become a seedsaver campaign calls on the public this month to ask their MP to ensure the UK government does everything in its power to maintain and strengthen the current ban on Terminator technology, when it is debated by the UN Convention on Biodiversity in May 2008. Progressio's executive director, Christine Allen, said: "Progressio believes that we are called on to be stewards of God's creation with a particular concern for the poor. This technology could have a massive impact on both. That's why Progressio is taking action. It is imperative that churches and people of faith make their voices heard, alongside others, in calling for the ban to remain.'" Former Bishop of Galloway and vice-president of Progressio, Maurice Taylor, said: "Although the project by some multinationals to supply farmers with seeds and/or plants immune from contamination may seem praiseworthy, the fact that such plants produce only sterile seeds would be a serious wrong and a grave disadvantage to the livelihood and welfare of farmers, especially those in the developing world. I therefore hope that the current ban on the practice will be rigorously maintained.' The campaign is part of this year's Catholic livesimply initiative to live simply, sustainably and in solidarity with the poor." Act now for sustainability and solidarity with the poor by taking part in the livesimply Say no to Terminator seeds campaign. Order a seed packets containing a postcard to send to your MP and action packs to inspire your network or community to join the campaign by clicking on: www.seedsaver.org.uk or call: 020 7354 0883.
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