Traitor Technology in GM Crops

Questions and concerns among the vigilant public has continuously raised alarm over the development of GM crops by some biotech firms making use of the so-called "Traitor" technology. The Traitor technology is similar to the so-called Terminator technology that renders the next generation of patented commercial GM seeds sterile. But they differ in terms of how they are used in GM seeds. But their purpose is to limit the proprietary use of seeds by farmers.

Traitor technology, along with the Terminator technology almost may have been approved for use if it was not for the intervention of concerned individuals in the agricultural as well as the consumer sector. Traitor technology can allow traits in genetically modified seeds to be switched on and off by using special proprietary chemicals. The traits usually involved are those that allow GM seeds to develop into better crops. Without these traits, the GM crops may either not grow or develop special traits that make them different from organic varieties.

One of the arguments that most biotech companies have put out for the development of the Traitor technology is to promote biosafety. Countries that have planted GM crops for sometime now have experienced having lands planted with organic crops being contaminated by GM varieties. This may prove to be disadvantageous to organic farmers since a contaminated harvest may not be accepted by customers who look for purely organic crops, therefore harming their livelihood.

Biotech companies have been pushing for the Traitor technology to be used in developing new GM seeds to promote biosafety by preventing GM crops from contaminating organic farms. This can be done by preventing GM plants from developing their engineered traits without the application of a specialized chemical solution on a yearly basis. Such technology would also prevent genetically modified traits from cross-pollinating wild species of plants. This would also mean that fully developed GM plants with Traitor technology would only grow in treated areas. It may look interesting at first glance, but such a technology may also bring with it certain disadvantages.

With Traitor as well as Terminator technology being used in GM crops, biotech companies are aiming to have control over the use of their proprietary seeds without due compensation. The technology can render second generation seeds sterile, preventing farmers from using the seeds for replanting. Farmers would then need to buy a new batch of seeds for the next harvest. This will prevent farmers from stocking up on seeds. Traitor technology may be applied as far as developing GM crops with weakened immune systems that would require the application of special chemicals for them to regain their natural defenses. This would allow a few biotech companies supplying GM seeds to have greater control over the GM seed market.

As of now, both technologies have been banned from commercial use pending further study and research. But there will come a time when such technologies may eventually be used in some GM crops if more and more people do not become fully aware of the consequences of their use. Biotech companies are doing their best to have them accepted for commercialization. In case they do succeed, expect really quite anxious times ahead.

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