Plant Science Portal 
Introduction

In 1998, scientists developed the Technology Protection System which was a genetic technology that ensured that crops could only produce sterile seeds. Now known as Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT), the companies and government agencies who originally developed the science have since pledged never to commercialise GURT in response to widespread opposition from many sectors of the community.

Despite this, questions should be asked:
  • How does GURT work?
  • Who is responsible for GURT?
  • Is GURT ethical?
  • Is GURT safe?
From a scientific standpoint, this technology is amazing, but the potential for it to be abused is considerable. Throughout this website, Dr. Adam Dimech takes a look at Genetic Use Restriction Technology and the implications of its use.

A good starting point for this website is wheat.
Wheat (image by CIMMYT, used under a creative commons licence.
Wheat. Photo by Centro Internacional de Mejoramiento de Maíz y Trigo (CIMMYT), used under a Creative Commons licence.
Wheat (Triticum aevestum ) is a staple. It feeds billions of people worldwide. It is also one of Australia's biggest export crops.

Think about what would happen if someone produced a variety of wheat (or other crop) that would only produce sterile seeds? What if the farmer were compelled to buy new seed annually as a result? Think about the potential power that company or government owning that technology would have. In the case of the Technology Protection System (TPS) or Genetic Use Restriction Technology (GURT), that power rests with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Delta & Pine Land Company (D&PL, now owned by Monsanto).

Concerns have been raised about the risk of genetic contamination of wild populations resulting from the use of GURT. There have also been concerns expressed about the commercial availability of non-GURT seed would be significantly reduced if the technology is commercialised by seed companies. The possible dissolution of farmers’ rights to collect and sow their own seed in both third-world and developed nations including Australia, through patents and Plant Breeders’ Rights is another important issue surrounding the technology.

This website is all about exploring the science behind GURT. All statements and claims are fully referenced, so you can verify the accuracy of what has been written, or seek further information if neccisary. Key scientists involved with the development of 'Termintator technology' were contacted about aspects of the science.


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