Are GM plants fertile, or do farmers have to buy new seeds every year?

All GM plants commercialized are as fertile as their conventional counterparts. Nevertheless, anti-GM activists have claimed that companies plan to use Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTS) — or so-called ‘terminator’ technology — to prevent farmers from planting saved seed in the following season. This has now become something of an urban myth that “terminator” seed is being sold.

There are no such seeds in the marketplace. Recognising the sensitivity of the subject, the major GM companies have pledged not to use the technology. Note that GURTS and hybrid seeds should not be confused. Already, many farmers, particularly in developed countries, prefer to buy new seed each year because it produces better yields. In the case of some hybrid crops such as maize and many vegetables, buying new seed is preferable, as the harvested crop does not breed true. This has not prevented hybrid seed dominating the market, even in developing countries such as India.