Sunday, November 14

Laws keep Iraqi Farmers from planting their own seed

Agribusiness has a new money tree. This has been bandied about for awhile, but one of the develoments in the industry is to create not only pest repellent varieties of grians and other foodstuffs, but geneticaly modified so that the grain is sterile as well. You may have heard of the term "seed Corn". This refers to the kernals that are kept from being consumed so that the farmer has something to plant the following year. In a way you could call it a conservation program, or better yet a positive feedback system. You could also say that proper management might make a farmer somewhat self-sufficient.

Now if you were in the business of producing grain for sale, and could somehow find the means to limit your product to one use, you might believe that you have just discovered the location of the Golden Goose. The elimination of seed corn could be a boon to profitiability, as farmers would have no choice but to buy it from you. Eventually you might be able to charge what you like for the stuff, and as people need food to live, they would have no choice.

Well this shit is already on the market, and while there are no rules governing or mandating it's use in the US, one of the parting gifts we left with the Iraqi government was a law that madates it's use by Iraqi farmers. Now there is the capitalist Utopia, the neocons have been dreaming of. From
Iraq's new patent law: A declaration of war against farmers

by Focus on the Global South and GRAIN

October 2004


When former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator L. Paul Bremer III left Baghdad after the so-called "transfer of sovereignty" in June 2004, he left behind the 100 orders he enacted as chief of the occupation authority in Iraq. Among them is Order 81 on "Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety." [1] This order amends Iraq's original patent law of 1970 and unless and until it is revised or repealed by a new Iraqi government, it now has the status and force of a binding law. [2] With important implications for farmers and the future of agriculture in Iraq, this order is yet another important component in the United States' attempts to radically transform Iraq's economy.


For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal under the new law. The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant - "protected" crop varieties brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of agricultural reconstruction - will be the property of the corporations.
We really have no shame at all. As the steaming piles of hypocracy in washington increase in size and volume, one wonders how anyone can move around let alone breathe. So when Pro-Consul Bremer left the country, the transfer of sovereignity included a leagal (coporate protection) system that
will remain in place untill overturned by the Iraqi government. Which is unlikely to happen as long as Allawi is around. I wonder if this new grain has been designed to flourish in areas with higher than normal radiation levels thanks to all the depleted urainium we left scattered around the place.
While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.
Welcome to the new world order Kiddies, where the rights of Cash trump the rights of Humans every time. If that baseball team needs to build a new stadium, then eminant domain concerns can remove your property at will. It is only a matter of time before the only thing that remains un coopted by coroprate interests will be the right to breath increasingly toxic air. One of these days I will try to hunt down the court case or legislation that expanded the rights of corpaporations sometime during the latter part of the 19th century

The case was decided in 1886, Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad that corporations had enjoyed the status of personhood and therefore the protections guarenteed to citizens by the 14th ammendmant.