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News Release - 31 August 2001
Will financial troubles put Delta & Pine Land Inc. on the auction
Delta & Pine Land, the maverick seed company that vows
the notorious Terminator technology, is in trouble. Delta & Pine Land
announced earlier this week that its president is
quitting, the company will eliminate seven percent of its work force,
and they are shutting down a facility in Arizona.
The Mississippi-based cotton seed company, the ninth largest
business in the world, is the only company to publicly announce its
intention to commercialize Terminator seeds - a technology that
genetically modifies plants to produce sterile seeds, forcing farmers
to return to the commercial seed market every year. The USDA and Delta &
Pine Land jointly own three patents on genetic seed sterilization. On
August 1 the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that it had
concluded negotiations to license the Terminator
technology to Delta & Pine Land. (See RAFI News Release, "USDA Says
Yes to Terminator," 3 August 2001, www.rafi.org)
Will financial hard times put Delta & Pine Land (D&PL)
on the auction
block? Which Gene Giant will risk acquiring Terminator technology
next? Is Terminator an asset or a liability?
Financial Advice for D&PL: "USDA's recent announcement
licensing of Terminator technology is perceived internationally as a
'declaration of war' against Third World farmers," explains Julie
Delahanty of RAFI. An estimated three-quarters of the world's farmers
routinely save seed from their harvest to re-plant the following
"The stigma of 'suicide seeds' is a noose around the company's
adds RAFI's Hope Shand, "Delta & Pine Land can cut its losses now,
simply by abandoning Terminator seed technology."
Takeover Target? With the economy in a free fall, Delta &
becomes an attractive takeover target, once again, for a handful of
Gene Giants looking to acquire major market share in the seed business.
The company controls approximately three-quarters of the U.S. cotton
seed market, and has extensive foreign operations. Delta & Pine Land
proved that it was willing to be acquired back in 1998, when Monsanto
announced that it would buy Delta & Pine Land for a
stunning $1.8 billion. The deal collapsed, partly because of
overwhelming public opposition to Terminator technology and
Monsanto's burgeoning debt load.
Who could afford to acquire D&PL? Monsanto (now owned by
DuPont, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF are all possible suitors. Bayer
is in the midst of negotiating a deal to acquire Aventis's seed and
agrochemical division. Monsanto already has a joint venture with D&PL.
BASF is looking to extend its position in ag biotech.
Take Action on Terminator:
Civil society organizations (CSOs) around
the world will take the anti-Terminator campaign to the World Food
Summit Five Years Later, 5-9 November 2001.
Citizens should contact their Ministers of Agriculture now.
government to endorse a formal ban on Terminator technology at the
World Food Summit in November. There is no doubt that D&PL seeks to
deploy Terminator seeds in the South. Murray Robinson, the company's
new president, told a U.S. seed trade journal in 1998 that D&PL's seed
sterilizing technology could be used on over 405 million hectares
worldwide (an area the size of South Asia), and that it could
generate revenues for his company in excess of $1 billion per annum.
Robinson said that the newly patented technique will provide seed
companies with a "safe avenue" for introducing their new proprietary
technologies into giant, untapped seed markets such as China, India, and
Concerned citizens, farmers, and civil society organizations
send a message directly to Delta & Pine Land's new president, and
current CEO, Murray Robinson. Let D&PL know that Terminator is
anti-farmer, dangerous for the environment, and disastrous for world
food security. Terminator technology is also bad for business!
F. Murray Robinson, President and CEO
Delta & Pine Land Inc.
One Cotton Row
Scott, Mississippi 38772
Tel: 662 742-4000
Fax: 662 742-3795
Email should be sent via: [email protected]
For a complete list of Delta & Pine Land's subsidiaries
ventures, see the PDF version of this news release on RAFI's web
1. Robinson was interviewed by Bill Freiberg, "Is Delta and Pine
Land's Terminator Gene a Billion Dollar Discovery?" Seeds and Crop
Digest, May/June, 1998.
For more information, contact:
Hope Shand, RAFI: [email protected]
Julie Delahanty, RAFI: [email protected]
RAFI is an international civil society organization based in
We are dedicated to the conservation and sustainable use of
biodiversity and to the socially responsible development of
technologies useful to rural societies.
To add or remove your name from the RAFI listserver, please
www.rafi.org and then "Sign Up" where you will be given the choice of
adding or removing your name.
Hope Shand, Research Director
118 E. Main St., Rm. 211
Carrboro, NC 27510
tel: 919 960-5223
fax: 919 960-5224
email: [email protected]