From the September 2006 Idaho Observer:
Suicide seed food weapons being readied for deployment
Monsanto buys "Terminator" seed company
We are familiar with the "terminator" seed concept: Genetically engineered and patented crop species that do not produce viable seed for replanting. We are also aware of the implications should farmers be made dependent upon the likes of Monsanto to provide the seeds needed to plant the fields that produce the food for people and livestock. But most of us have many "gaps" in our understanding of who is behind this diabolical agenda. The following article fills in those gaps.
by F. William Engdahl
Feds began sowing seeds of destruction in the early 80s
The U.S. government has been financing research on genetic engineering technology which, when commercialized, will give its owners the power to control the food seed of entire nations or regions. The government has been working quietly on this technology since 1983. Now, the little-known company that has been collaborating in this genetic research with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)—Delta & Pine Land (D&PL)—is about to become part of the world’s largest supplier of seeds for genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) patented by the Monsanto Corporation of St. Louis, Missouri.
Relations between Monsanto, D&PL and the USDA, on closer scrutiny, show the deep and dark side of the much-heralded genetic revolution in agriculture. It proves deep-held suspicions that the "gene revolution" is not about "solving the world hunger problem" as its advocates claim. It’s about handing over control of the seeds for mankind’s basic food supply—rice, corn, soybeans, wheat, even fruit, vegetables and cotton—to privately owned corporations. Once the seeds and their use are patented and controlled by one or several private agribusiness multinationals, it will be they who decide whether or not a particular customer—let’s say for argument, China or Brazil or India or Japan—will or won’t get the patented seeds from Monsanto, or from one of its licensee GMO partners like Bayer Crop Sciences, Syngenta or DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International.
Most of us don’t bother to reflect on where the corn in the box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes or the rice in a box of Uncle Ben’s Converted Rice come from. Therefore, we must be reminded that plant-based food products on supermarket shelves began as seeds.
Historically, farmers have two crop propagation choices: They can either plant their crops with seeds held over from the previous years’ harvests or they can be bought from seed companies.
The advent of commercial GMO seeds in the early 1990s allowed companies like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow Chemical to go from supplying agricultural chemical herbicides like Roundup, to patenting genetically altered seeds for staple farm crops like corn, rice, soybeans or wheat. Since 1983, the U.S. government has quietly been working to genetically-engineer crops that would produce one harvest with seeds that would not be viable for saving and future planting. Farmers would then be forced to depend upon seed suppliers each year to provide the seeds needed to plant their fields.
There has been much hue and cry, correctly so, that this process, patented "suicide" seeds, officially termed "GURTs (Genetic Use Restriction Technologies)," is a threat to poor farmers in developing countries like India or Brazil, who traditionally save their own seeds for the next planting. In fact, GURTs, more popularly referred to as "Terminator" seeds for the brutal manner in which they kill off plant reproduction possibilities, is a threat to the food security of the regions mentioned above, North America, Western Europe, Asia and anywhere Monsanto and its elite cartel of GMO agribusiness partners occupy a market.
Terminator plants are genetically engineered to produce sterile seed. By inserting a series of "promoter" and "marker" genes and gene switches, it is possible to switch on or off the sterility of crops at the molecular level by applying chemicals to the plant. Seed can be harvested but not saved as a source for the next planting without the repeated use of a chemical inducer.
Differences of opinion
In the first terminator patents from D&PL and USDA in 1998, a specific chemical triggers a genetically-engineered suicide mechanism. The trigger is the antibiotic tetracycline applied to the seeds. The result is that the next generation of seeds is dead.
Harry Collins, vice-president of D&PL, gave the PR sell version for Terminator back in 1998. He argued, "The centuries old practice of farmer-saved seed is really a gross disadvantage to Third World farmers who inadvertently become locked into obsolete varieties because of their taking the ‘easy road’ and not planting newer, more productive varieties."
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Crucible Group, which includes the International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, puts "Terminator" into a wider context: "The monopoly control afforded by ‘Terminator Technology’ goes far beyond patents and threatens national sovereignty. A patent is a time-limited, legal monopoly granted by a government in exchange for societal benefits. In the case of the ‘Terminator’, the biological monopoly is not time-limited, and is not necessarily approved by national governments."
The Curious History of D&PL
D&PL is a company that, despite the pine in its name, has deep roots. Founded in 1888, it has its headquarters at One Cotton Row in Scott, Mississippi, nestled between Goat Island and Choktaw Bar Island on the Mississippi River, near the Arkansas border. However, the people running D&PL are not your typical Mississippi black-dirt cotton farmers.
In 1983, D&PL joined with the USDA in a project to develop Terminator seeds. It was one of the earliest experiments with GMO. It was a long-term project.
In March 1998 the U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 5,723,765 to D&PL for a patent titled, "Control of Plant Gene Expression." The patent is owned jointly, according to D&PL’s Security & Exchange Commission (SEC) 10K filing, "by D&PL and the United States of America, as represented by the Secretary of Agriculture."
The patent has global coverage. To quote further from the official D&PL SEC filing, "The patent broadly covers all species of plant and seed, both transgenic (GMO-ed) and conventional, for a system designed to allow control of progeny seed viability without harming the crop" (sic).
Then, in a manner reminiscent of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel, 1984, D&PL claims, "One application of the technology could be to control unauthorized planting of seed of proprietary varieties…by making such a practice non-economic since non-authorized saved seed will not germinate, and, therefore, would be useless for planting."
D&PL calls the thousand-year-old tradition of farmer-saved seed by the pejorative term, "brown bagging" as though it is something dirty and corrupt.
Toward a global food production monopoly
Translated into lay language, D&PL officially declares the purpose of its Patent No. 5,723,765, Control of Plant Gene Expression, is to prevent farmers who once get trapped into buying transgenic or GMO seeds from a company such as Monsanto or Syngenta, from "brown bagging" or being able to break free of control of their future crops by Monsanto and friends. As D&PL puts it, their patent gives them "the prospect of opening significant worldwide seed markets to the sale of transgenic technology in varietal crops in which crop seed currently is saved and used in subsequent seasons as planting seed."
Instead, the farmer or the country whose farmers depend on Monsanto-patented GMO seeds must pay a license fee to Monsanto each year to get new seeds. "No tickee, no laundy," as the old Brooklyn poet would say.
Terminator is the answer to the agribusiness dream of controlling world food production. No longer would it need to hire expensive detectives to spy on whether farmers were re-using Monsanto or other GMO patented seed. Terminator corn, soybean or cotton seeds could be genetically modified to "commit suicide" after one harvest season. That would automatically prevent farmers from saving and re-using the seed for the next harvest. The technology would be a means of enforcing Monsanto or other GMO patent-holders’ rights and forcing payment of farmer use fees not only in developing economies, where patent rights were, understandably, little respected, but also in developed countries.
With Terminator patent rights, once countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Iraq, the USA or Canada opened its doors to the spread of GMO patented seeds among its farmers, their food security would be potentially hostage to private multinational companies—companies that have intimate ties to the U.S. government and could potentially use food as a "weapon" to compel countries’ cooperation with U.S.-friendly policies.
Sound far-fetched? Go back to what then-Secretary of State Henry Kissinger did in countries like Allende’s Chile to force a regime change to a "U.S.-friendly" Pinochet dictatorship by withholding USAID and private food exports to Chile. Kissinger dubbed the tactic, "food as a weapon."
Terminator is merely the logical next step in food weapon technology.
Under threat of sanction
The role of the U.S. government in backing and financing D&PL’s decades of Terminator research is even more revealing. As Kissinger said back in the 1970s, "Control the oil and you can control entire Continents. Control food and you control people…"
In a June, 1998 interview, USDA spokesman Willard Phelps defined the U.S. government policy on Terminator seeds. He explained that USDA wanted the technology to be, "widely licensed and made expeditiously available to many seed companies."
The "seed companies" to which he is referring are agribusiness GMO giants like Monsanto, DuPont and Dow. The USDA was open about its reasons: It wanted to get Terminator seeds into the developing world where the Rockefeller Foundation had made eventual proliferation of genetically engineered crops the heart of its GMO strategy from the beginnings of its rice genome project in 1984.
USDA’s Phelps stated that the U.S. government’s goal in fostering the widest possible development of Terminator technology was "to increase the value of proprietary seed owned by U.S. seed companies and to open up new markets in Second and Third World countries."
Under WTO rules on free trade in agriculture, countries are forbidden to impose their own national health restrictions on GMO imports if it is deemed to be an "unfair trade barrier."
It begins to become clear why the U.S. government and U.S. agribusiness, during the late 1980s, pushed at the GATT Uruguay Round for creation of a World Trade Organization, with its supranational arbitrary powers over world agriculture trade. It all fits into a neat picture of patented seeds, forced on reluctant WTO member nations, under threat of WTO sanctions—and now these same pressures will be applied to all nations, forcing them to purchase Terminator (suicide) seeds.
A closer look at who runs and owns D&PL is instructive.
Arkansas politics and D&PL
The largest shareholder in D&PL is the Stephens Group of Little Rock, Arkansas. Here is where things become interesting indeed.
The man who is Chairman of the Board of DP&L is Jon E.M. Jacoby, who came to DP&L as representative of the Stephens Group. Jacoby is a director and vice-chairman of The Stephens Group, LLC, the Arkansas-based private equity firm owned by the Stephens family.
The Stephens Group prides itself on being the nation’s largest investment bank outside Wall Street, based, of all places, in little ol’ Little Rock, in hillbilly land, Arkansas, one of the poorest states in the United States. Stephens Inc., is also one of the biggest institutional shareholders in 30 large multinationals, including the Arkansas-based firms Tyson Food, the world’s largest chicken industrial factory operation and the infamous Arkansas giant, Wal-Mart.
Jackson Stephens, who founded the group with his brother, Witt, were more than just lucky Arkansas bankers and billionaires. Stephens evidently built his career and fortune by being connected to the "right" people. He was a U.S. Naval Academy classmate of Jimmy Carter and during the Georgia bank scandals of President Carter’s Office of Management & Budget chief, Bert Lance. It was Jack Stephens who stepped in to bail Lance out of an extremely embarrassing financial debacle with Lance’s old bank, National Bank of Georgia.
The BCCI connection
How Stephens helped Jimmy Carter’s fellow Georgia buddy, Lance, is the interesting part. Stephens introduced Lance to a Pakistani businessman, Agha Hasan Abedi. Abedi was the founder of the curious Luxembourg-registered, London-based Bank of Commerce and Credit International (BCCI).
In 1990, BCCI was convicted of money laundering for the Columbian Cocaine Cartels in Miami.
Jackson Stephens was no casual business acquaintance of BCCI’s Agha Hasan Abedi. In response to the concerns over Jackson Stephens’ involvement in BCCI, the Ohio Attorney General noted in a 1993 report, "Stephens’ name has been linked to securities violations that allegedly occurred when the Bank of Commerce and Credit International, a foreign bank dominated by Pakistani financier Agha Hasan Abedi, [that] acquired stock and control over the Washington-based First American Bank."
In 1991, Stephens joined BCCI investor Mochtar Riady in buying BCCI’s former Hong Kong subsidiary from its liquidators.
The Stephens Group was well-connected to another interesting Asian banking group, the billionaire Indonesian Riady family of Moktar and his son James Riady, who own the Lippo Bank in Indonesia. The Riadys are Chinese-Indonesian businessmen who, of all places, moved to Arkansas in the 1970s, despite holding billions of assets in Asia. Stephens and Riady hit it off and soon Stephens and Riady bought a bank in Hong Kong. Stephens then invited Riady to invest in a Little Rock, Arkansas bank called "Worthen."
BCCI and Jackson Stephens, chairman of the Stephens Group of Arkansas, were well known to one another. Stephens Group board member Jon E.M. Jacoby, today Chairman of D&PL and still a vice-director of The Stephens Group, was a very senior, trusted member of the Stephens’ inside circle for more than 35 years.
Jackson Stephens’ Stephens Group financially staked Sam Walton when he started Wal-Mart in 1970. Stephens also financed Tyson Foods to become the agribusiness global giant it is today. Jon Jacoby, as senior executive of the Stephens Group, had arranged the 1970 Wal-Mart deal. Jon E.M. Jacoby and Jackson Stephens went way back.
Stephens Group, Tyson Farms and other Arkansas fairy tales
A tangled web of relations links the Stephens Group and D&PL of Scott, Mississippi, with another satellite in the agribusiness orbit of the influential Stephens Group. The Stephens Group is also linked intimately with Arkansas-based Tyson Foods, the U.S.’ largest agribusiness processor of industrialized chicken meat—and arguably one of its most unsanitary ones.
Tyson Foods curiously emerged from the recent Avian Flu (H5N1) virus scare as a winner, using the lie that their factory farm mass-bred assembly-line chickens were more "sanitary" than free-roaming small farm chickens of Asia.
U.S. administrations, at least since the Clinton era, seem to have a love affair of some sort with Tyson Foods.
It began when Clinton sought to name an Arkansas crony, Mike Espy, to be his Secretary of Agriculture. Before Clinton could submit Espy’s name to the Senate for confirmation, however, Espy was sent to Arkansas for a meeting that would decide if Espy had the right stuff. The meeting was with Don Tyson, head of Tyson Foods.
Tyson apparently concluded that Espy indeed had the right stuff, at least as far as Tyson was concerned. Soon after being named head of USDA, Espy enacted measures significantly weakening federal chicken waste and contamination standards. That opened the floodgates for expansion of Tyson Foods chicken factory farms into the huge concentrations of chicken waste and rivers overflowing with toxic pollution in Arkansas and beyond.
The Wall Street Journal on May 28, 2003, reported an interesting fact about Clinton’s wife, Hillary. In 1978, Hillary was invited to join the powerful Little Rock law firm, Rose Law Firm, the law firm of the Stephens Group. In October, 1978, a month before husband Bill Clinton was elected Arkansas governor, Hillary began a series of commodities trades under the guidance of Tyson Foods executive Jim Blair, earning nearly $100,000. The trades were not revealed until March, 1994.
To be the corporate law firm of the Stephens Group was no casual affair. It implied a deep trust relationship and perhaps more. As one crony of Jackson Stephens put it at that time, "Jackson Stephens? He’s the man who owns Arkansas."
The head of the prestigious Rose law firm in Little Rock in those days was C. Joseph Giroir, Jr. In 1977, Giroir hired Hillary Clinton to work for Rose. It was all one cozy Arkansas-Indonesia family back then.
The Wall Street Journal went on to note that, in 1987, while Clinton was still governor, "Officials at investment giant Stephens Inc., including longtime Clinton friend, David Edwards, took steps to rescue Harken Energy, a struggling Texas oil company with George W. Bush on its board. Over the next three years, Mr. Edwards brings BCCI-linked investors and advisers into Harken deals. One of them, Abdullah Bakhsh, purchases $10 million in shares of Stephens-dominated Worthen Bank."
Jackson Stephens’ political largesse was non-partisan: Democrats Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and then Republican George W. Bush, the man now in the White House as Monsanto seeks approval to take over the Stephens Group’s D&PL.
Under the Clinton presidency, agribusiness, especially agribusiness tied to the Stephens’ interests, made huge advances.
Agriculture Secretary Espy was forced to resign in October, 1994, and was indicted on charges of accepting bribes and other gratuities. Among the charges against him were making false statements, concealing money from prohibited sources, illegal gratuities, illegal contributions, falsifying records, interstate transportation of stolen property, money laundering, and illegal dispersal of USDA subsidies. The largest corporate offender was Tyson Foods. Tyson had illegally offered Espy $12,000 in airplane rides, football tickets and other payoffs. Espy got off because the law makes it easier to convict a briber than a bribee. Tyson paid the government $6 million to close its case.
Tyson had been enthusiastic supporters of the Clinton family for years. In 1994, Time reported that a senior pilot for Tyson, Joe Henrickson, had been grilled for three days by the Espy Independent Prosecutor Dan Smaltz and FBI agents. They grilled the Tyson pilot about earlier transfers of cash to the (Arkansas) Governor’s (Bill Clinton) mansion. According to Time, Henrickson claimed to have carried white envelopes containing a quarter-inch stack of $100 bills on six occasions.
Time magazine reported that, "In one case, [Henrickson claimed] a Tyson executive handed him an envelope of cash in the company’s aircraft hanger in Fayetteville and said, ‘This is for Governor Clinton.’"
Arkansas has its political traditions and the Stephens and Tyson families are evidently skilled practitioners of that art.
Monsanto’s real interest
By now the question becomes, "What is so attractive about the Stephens Group’s D&PL that Monsanto makes its second bid to add it to its global genetically-engineered seed empire?"
The answer is "the patent."
D&PL, together with the U.S. government, holds Patent No. 5,723,765, titled, "Control of Plant Gene Expression." The USDA, through its Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) in Lubbock, Texas, as noted, has worked with D&PL since 1983 to perfect Terminator GMO technology. Patent No. 5,723,765 is the patent for Terminator technology. When we speak about Terminator, whether we know it or not, we speak about D&PL and the USDA joint patent.
One year later, in early 1999, Monsanto, the largest producer of GMO seeds and related agri-chemicals, announced it was acquiring D&PL along with its Terminator patents.
In October 1999, following a worldwide storm of protest against Terminator seeds that threatened the very future of the Rockefeller Foundation’s "gene revolution," Dr. Gordon Conway, president of the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation, met privately with the board of directors of Monsanto. Conway convinced Monsanto that, for the long-term future of their GMO Project, they must go public to indicate to a worried world that it would not "commercialise" Terminator. Development of the genetic revolution and genetic engineering as a research area has been a top priority of the Rockefeller Foundation for decades and has been advancing with the help of researchers at the family’s Rockefeller University.
The Anglo-Swiss company Syngenta joined with Monsanto in declaring solemnly that it would also not commercialize its work on GURTS (Terminator) suicide seed technology.
That 1999 announcement took enormous pressure off of Monsanto and the agribusiness GMO giants, allowing them to advance the proliferation of their patented GMO seeds globally. Terminator could come later, once farmers and entire national agriculture areas like North America or Argentina or India had been taken over by GM crops. Then, of course, it would be too late. The Rockefeller-Monsanto 1999 press conference was clearly an application of classic Lenin Bolshevik tactics—Two Steps Forward, One Step Back…
Despite the Monsanto declaration of a moratorium on Terminator development, the U.S. government and the again independent D&PL refused to drop Terminator development.
In 2000, a year after the Monsanto Terminator moratorium announcement, the Clinton Administration’s USDA Secretary, Dan Glickman, refused repeated efforts by various agriculture and NGO organizations to drop the government’s support for Terminator or GURTs. His department’s feeble excuse for not dropping support for the work with D&PL was that it allowed the U.S. government to put "leverage" on D&PL to "protect the public interest."
Six years later it became clear: The only leverage the U.S. government had put on D&PL’s commercialization efforts on GURTs had been to lever it into commercial reality.
D&PL Vice-president Harry Collins declared at the time in a press interview in the Agra/Industrial Biotechnology Legal Letter, "We’ve continued right on with work on the Technology Protection System (TPS or Terminator). We never really slowed down. We’re on target, moving ahead to commercialize it. We never really backed off."
Nor did D&PL partner, the USDA, back down on Terminator after 1999. In 2001, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) website announced, "USDA has no plans to introduce TPS into any germplasm…Our involvement has been to help develop the technology, not to assist companies to use it" (As if to say, "See, our hands are clean").
Then department spokesmen went on to say the USDA was, "committed to making the [Terminator] technology as widely available as possible, so that its benefits will accrue to all segments of society (sic)…ARS intends to do research on other applications of this unique gene control discovery…When new applications are at the appropriate stage of development, this technology will also be transferred to the private sector for commercial application." Terminator was alive and well inside the Washington bureaucracy.
In 2001, the USDA and D&PL executed a commercialization agreement for Terminator through its infamous Patent No. 5,723,765. The government and D&PL were not at all concerned about a worldwide outcry against Terminator.
That announcement came two years after Monsanto had dropped its planned takeover of D&PL and its Terminator patents.
The world was left with the (misleading) impression that Terminator was dead. In reality, it was anything but dead. Seven years later, long after public outcry against Terminator technology had died down, Monsanto re-entered and bought D&PL and its Terminator patents.
D&PL’s global net
The key scientific member of the D&PL board since 1993 has been Dr. Nam-Hai Chua. Chua, 62, is also head of the Rockefeller University Plant Molecular Biology Laboratory in New York—and has been for over 25 years. The labs are at the heart of the Rockefeller Foundation’s decades-long development and spending of more than $100 million of its own research grants to create their gene revolution. Until 1995, Chua was also a scientific consultant to Monsanto Corporation, as well as to DuPont’s Pioneer Hi-Bred International. Chua is at the heart of Rockefeller’s gene revolution and, clearly, D&PL and their research on Terminator have been at the center of that work.
D&PL is well-placed globally to proliferate its suicide seeds now, with the corporate and financial clout of the giant Monsanto company. D&PL already has subsidiaries including D&PL Argentina, D&PL China, D&PL China PTE in Singapore, Deltapine Paraguay, Delta Pine de Mexico, Deltapine Australia, Hebei Ji Dai Cottonseed Technology Company in China, CDM Mandiyu in Argentina, Delta and Pine Land Hellas in Greece, D&M Brazil Algodao of Brazil, D&PL India, D&PL Mauritius Ltd.
This vast global network combined with Monsanto’s dominant position in the GMO seeds and agri-chemicals market along with the unique DP&L Patent No. 5,723,765, Control of Plant Gene Expression, now give Monsanto and its close friends in Washington an enormous advance in their plans to dominate world food and plant seed use.
F. William Engdahl is author of the soon-to-be-released book, "Seeds of Destruction: The Dark Side of Genetically-engineered Food." He is also author of "A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics" (see ad page 14). To see more of Engdahl’s excellent analyses or comment on his articles and books, he may be contacted through his website at www.engdahl.oilgeopolitics.net.
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