Terminator Technology and GM Crops

Here is something that has become quite controversial recently in the field of biotechnology. Many people seem to have different views about it and seem to stand on two different sides of the fence. There has been talk going around the development of what has been popularly known as "Terminator Technology".

Terminator Technology is one form of what is called Genetic Use Restriction Technologies or GURT. It is a term used to describe the methods used and developed by biotech companies that would allow the restriction of the use of second generation seeds of genetically modified crops for replanting. The method aims to make seeds produced by genetically modified plants to become sterile, thus make them unusable for the next cycle of crops to be planted.

There are two known types of GURT being studied today. One is known as the V-GURT where the technology aims to produce sterile seeds out of the first cultivation of the purchased seeds. The seeds produced during harvest by purchased seeds employing V-GURT could not be saved for future replanting. Farmers either have to buy the seeds again from the seed production companies for use on the next planting cycle.

The other type of GURT is known as the T-GURT. It is a type of technology that genetically modifies a plant or crop in such a way that the genetic improvements that was engineered in the said crop would not function unless reactivated by a certain compound that can be purchased from the company that produced the seeds. The farmers can save the seeds produced each year but would not be able to benefit from the enhanced traits of the GM crop unless they purchase the activator compound that would trigger the said enhancements to function.

The US Patent Office has already granted a patent to the US Department of Agriculture and Delta and Pine Land Company (DPL) for genetic engineering processes aim to kill seeds or make them sterile. Although this technology may not yet be commercially available, some biotech firms have looked at them with much interest as something that they may use with the development of their own GM crops.

The Terminator Technology seems to have certain advantages and disadvantages, depending on the kind of stand that an individual has on genetic modification. Some say that this technology may be able to prevent the accidental spread of GM crops to its wild relatives and help prevent any adverse effects in biodiversity. And yet many opponents think that the Terminator Technology may lead to farmers getting more dependent on seed companies to provide seeds to plant. In a way, this can be seen as a means that can affect food security.

Although such technology may not yet be commercially available, it would only be a matter of time before such a technology might find itself into widespread use. Before they do, it is important that every aspect and methods surrounding the technology be extensively studied and tested in order to safeguard and protect the interests of the general population instead of just serving the interests of a privileged few.

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