crossbred seeds. Furthermore, this technology could potentially eliminate the problems of “volunteer” plants that appear from seed left in the field after harvest. Volunteer plants must be eliminated before the next crop is planted because they are hosts for pests and pathogens and can nullify the benefits of crop rotation. As with any growth regulator applied to crops, there are possible environmental or human health issues associated with the use of chemical activators (i.e., tetracycline, copper, steroids) and these would need to be addressed. Other concerns regarding the use of GURT are economic, related to the intellectual property rights and the monopoly of production of transgenic plants by particular companies.
It is critical that the potential benefits of GM technology become available to developing countries. To this end, we recommend that: (i) where appropriate, farmers must be allowed to save seed for future use (re-use seed) if they wish to do so; publicly funded research should investigate the value and limitations of re-using seed and the results of this research should be made freely available to interested parties; (ii) broad intellectual property claims, or claims on DNA sequenees without a true invention being made, should not be granted because they stifle research and development; (iii) possible inconsistencies among international conventions, such as those that pertain to patent rights and the Convention on Biological Diversity, should be identified and clarified; (iv) research institutions should establish partnerships among industrialized and developing countries so that the benefits of GM research, applications and licensing will become much more widely available; and (v) an international advisory committee should be created to assess the interests of private companies and developing countries in the generation and use of transgenic plants to benefit the poor—not only to help resolve the intellectual property issues involved, but also to identify areas of common interest and opportunity between private sector and public sector institutions.