The technology in question was developed by a cotton company, Delta and Pine Land, for which Monsanto is spending $1 billion. Some activists were concerned about a future where farmers are locked into the local seed store for their livelihood, while others feared that the suicide genes could cross-pollinate with other plants, creating widespread sterility. "Monsanto bowed to public pressure," says TIME science writer Jeffrey Kluger. "This technology is still several years down the road, so there wasn't any immediate payoff, and it was costing them quite a bit in terms of p.r."
Terminator isn't terminated just yet. Monsanto says it will press on with its attempted purchase of Delta (which is under federal antitrust review), and will use the technology to help with other biotech experiments. Meanwhile, the company says it will continue to investigate other ways to protect its copyrighted seeds — without making your tomatoes barren.