Excerpt from a speech given by Canadian farmer and safe food campaigner Percy Schmeiser at Bloor Street United Church, Friday, March 31, hosted by Act for the Earth.
If it isn't bad enough to be eating foods with GMOs in them, we are now possibly eating crops containing [genes] used to produce vaccines, industrial enzymes, blood thinners, blood-clotting proteins, growth hormones and contraceptives.
It's absolutely criminal that governments in Canada and the U.S. are permitting [experimental] plants to be raised in the open. They are already cross-pollinating.
If a person has major surgery and then goes home and eats food with a blood thinner in it, [what will happen]? If a woman is pregnant and eats a food with contraceptives in it, what will the result be? I thought this was one of the greatest dangers facing us until I went to the United Nations meeting in Bangkok in February 2005, where discussions about the Terminator gene took place.
What is the Terminator gene? It's a gene that's put into a seed so that when that seed becomes a plant and produces a seed or a fruit, that seed is sterile. You can't replant, because it has no life. So the Terminator gene is basically destroying life.
And what happened in Bangkok? A Canadian delegation of 17 people from Environment Canada urged that the Terminator gene be commercialized in Asia, and field trials conducted. Now, you have to remember that the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity passed a resolution in 2000 calling for a ban on the use of Terminator genes. Yet here you had Canada promoting the killer, or suicide, gene. It was a real shame.
I met the head of the delegation from Ottawa and asked, "What are you doing? Does your minister even know about this?" He said no.
I noticed that the U.S., which never signed the UN convention, and representatives of corporations were there wining and dining the Canadian delegation. The American government [department of agriculture] owns 50 per cent of the [patent] for the Terminator gene, and the other 50 per cent is owned by [Delta and Pine Land Company]. They were using the Canadians as running dogs.
I was very, very upset. The Canadian motion [to test the Terminator] was defeated. But here we were, trying to take away one of the basic rights of biodiversity. It was a real disgrace.
Let's fast-forward to this week. A conference was held again in Brazil [Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, in Curitiba, March 20-31]. Canada was there, now with 48 delegates from the environment ministry, again promoting the introduction of and commercialization of the Terminator gene.
In Brazil they were a little smarter. They pushed for commercialization on a case by case basis, which means putting it in wheat, barley or canola [one by one].
A lot of people don't know that there's yet another gene. Very little is known about it, but the environment ministry sure knows about it. It's called the Cheater gene, and it works in conjunction with the Terminator gene. Now, what is the Cheater gene?
The Cheater gene and the Terminator gene are put into a seed. When the seed becomes a plant, it will not produce seeds unless you spray a certain chemical on it. It's only when you spray the chemical on it that the Cheater gene will produce seeds, [the part of the plant that we use to make bread from wheat, for instance]. But then the Terminator gene kicks in and renders that seed sterile, so the farmer can't plant another crop.
So companies like Monsanto will have complete, utter control. Farmers will always, always have to go back to buy their seed from year to year.
If farmers in Canada had to buy wheat seed each year, it would cost them $100 million - just on wheat alone.
And this is what it's all about, the total control of the seed supply and ultimately the food supply.