[Homestead] Iraqis forbiden to save seeds.
crazygardens at nationi.net
Sat Nov 27 17:23:53 EST 2004
Has anybody heard anything about this? This kind of stuff makes me sick.
As part of sweeping "economic restructuring" implemented by the Bush
Administration in Iraq, Iraqi farmers will no longer be permitted to save
their seeds. Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US
corporations -- including seeds the Iraqis themselves developed over
hundreds of years. That is because in recent years, transnational
corporations have patented and now own many seed varieties originated or
developed by indigenous peoples. In a short time, Iraq will be living under
the new American credo: Pay Monsanto, or starve.
When the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) celebrated biodiversity on
World Food Day on October 16, Iraqi farmers were mourning its loss.
A new report  by GRAIN and Focus on the Global South has found that new
legislation in Iraq has been carefully put in place by the US that prevents
farmers from saving their seeds and effectively hands over the seed market
to transnational corporations. This is a disastrous turn of events for Iraqi
farmers, biodiversity and the country's food security. While political
sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has
been made near impossible by these new regulations.
"The US has been imposing patents on life around the world through trade
deals. In this case, they invaded the country first, then imposed their
patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani, one
of the report's authors.
The new law in question  heralds the entry into Iraqi law of patents on
life forms - this first one affecting plants and seeds. This law fits in
neatly into the US vision of Iraqi agriculture in the future - that of an
industrial agricultural system dependent on large corporations providing
inputs and seeds.
In 2002, FAO estimated that 97 percent of Iraqi farmers used saved seed from
their own stocks from last year's harvest or purchased from local markets.
When the new law - on plant variety protection (PVP) - is put into effect,
seed saving will be illegal and the market will only offer proprietary
"PVP-protected" planting material "invented" by transnational agribusiness
corporations. The new law totally ignores all the contributions Iraqi
farmers have made to development of important crops like wheat, barley, date
and pulses. Its consequences are the loss of farmers' freedoms and a grave
threat to food sovereignty in Iraq. In this way, the US has declared a new
war against the Iraqi farmer.
"If the FAO is celebrating 'Biodiversity for Food Security' this year, it
needs to demonstrate some real commitment", says Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN,
pointing out that the FAO has recently been cosying up with industry and
offering support for genetic engineering . "Most importantly, the FAO
must recognise that biodiversity-rich farming and industry-led agriculture
are worlds apart, and that industrial agriculture is one of the leading
causes of the catastrophic decline in agricultural biodiversity that we have
witnessed in recent decades. The FAO cannot hope to embrace biodiversity
while holding industry's hand", he added.
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