Syngenta breaks promise on development of "Terminator" genetically modified plants
Seed giant applies to field test "junkie plant" in Bracknell
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - News from gmfoodnews.com
25 July 2001
The agrochemical company Syngenta has announced that it has applied to test "Terminator"  gene technology in an open field trial at Jealott's Hill International Research Centre, Bracknell, Berkshire. 
The "Terminator" technology used in this case makes use of an "inducible promoter" gene, a mechanism which can be used to switch on or off the normal functionning of the plant. This switch can only be enabled by the application of chemicals to the plant.
The company has created a "junkie plant", as it has been dubbed by GM opponents. From a commercial perspective, this is known as Gene Use Restriction Technology (GURT), a means to ensure that farmers would be locked into Syngenta to be able to grow their crops, using seed and chemical "promoter" from the same company.
The news, which appears as a public notice in this week's Bracknell News, has sparked fury amongst local residents, who have established a group named GreenWatch to oppose the company's plans.
Syngenta was formed from the agrochemical units of AstraZeneca (formerly Zeneca) and Novartis. In a letter from the Zeneca Research and Development director, dated 24 February 1999, the company stated :
"Zeneca is not developing any system that would stop farmers growing second-generation seed, nor do we have any intention of doing so." 
The proposed trial shows that Syngenta has broken this promise and is intending to create a plant which could not survive to a second generation, or even grow successfully during a first generation, without the application of the company's own chemicals.
Marcus Williamson of gmfoodnews.com comments :
"These developments clearly have no role in a sustainable agriculture policy, as promised by Margaret Beckett at DEFRA . It is to be hoped that the application for the trial will be refused."
Notes for Editors
1. "Terminator", "Traitor" or "Gene Use Restriction Technology" (GURT) are names given to a range of technologies which create sterile seeds, or prevent a plant from growing successfully without the application of an external influence, such as a chemical.
2. The Syngenta public notice appears on page 48 of the 19 July 2001 edition of the "Bracknell News" newspaper. The DEFRA release reference number is 01/R34/02.
3. Further information about "Terminator" and "Traitor" can be found in the following documents : "Terminator Two Years Later", 12 May 2000 Rural Advancement Foundation International (RAFI)http://www.rafi.org/web/docus/pdfs/00may12attach.pdf
(This contains the quotation from Zeneca indicated above)
"Switching off Farmers' Rights?", Genewatch
4. When the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) was established in June 2001, Margarett Beckett committed to promoting :
* a better environment;
* thriving rural economies and communities;
* diversity and abundance of wildlife resources;
* a countryside for all to enjoy; and
* sustainable and diverse farming and food industries that work together to meet the needs of consumers.
Details of the DEFRA aims and objectives can be found here : http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2001/010614h.htm