At a U.N. conference in Bangkok this week, nations and NGOs are debating the merits of the Terminator. No, not the esteemed governor; the controversial biotechnology developed by the USDA and the agricultural industry in the late ’90s that can make plants produce sterile seeds. As a result, farmers would be forced to buy seeds anew each year. They’d benefit from hardier crops and higher yields, proclaim the corporate giants; growers and their advocates — especially in poorer countries — beg to differ.

The U.N. has placed a moratorium on the Terminator, and governments in Asia and Africa have called for an outright ban. But Canada is making a splash this week by recommending case-by-case assessments instead. “The Canadian government is doing the dirty work of the multinational gene giants and the U.S. government,” says a concerned Canadian foundation.

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