The life, death, and afterlife of the "terminator gene": the intersection of biotechnology, globalization, and politcs in India
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In March 1998, the United States government granted a patent for a new technology that allowed for the production of seeds that would grow for only one generation. The intent of the patent was to protect intellectual property and to prevent gene flow from genetically modified crops to other plants. Opponents of genetically modified organisms seized on the patent as a symbol of the danger of biotechnology, dubbing the new technology the "terminator gene." News of the gene soon spread to the developing world, especially India, where angry farmers' groups burned test plots of genetically modified cotton that did not contain the suspect gene. This controversy was one of the first flash points in the developing world in the global debate about agricultural biotechnology. In this project, I used contemporary news accounts and recent critical papers to examine the events in India, with specific focus on the reactions of major stakeholders to the controversy. The responses of government officials ranged from silence at upper levels of government to angry cries by state ministers for the expulsion of all multinational corporations. Monsanto, which received the brunt of the protesters' anger, shifted its response from a cold, corporate message to a friendly perspective voiced by Indians. Non-governmental organizations fomented the controversy by providing the protesting farmers groups with media coverage. For most of the major stakeholders, the events in India proved to be a source of much negative publicity at the time, but ultimately became a learning experience that helped them to adapt to the unique political and social climate surrounding the introduction of biotechnology in the developing world.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 27-28).
Siepel, Joshua Dee (2004). The life, death, and afterlife of the "terminator gene": the intersection of biotechnology, globalization, and politcs in India. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from