Big Food Discovers War Profiteering

Via Another Green World:

New patent laws being imposed on Iraq will make traditional seed-saving practices illegal. Farmers will now have no choice but to purchase copyrighted seeds from the likes of Monsanto.

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. While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of biological resources, the new U.S.-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds.[…]

The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines. During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder.

This new law means that Iraqi farmers can neither freely legally plant nor save for re-planting seeds of any plant variety registered under the plant variety provisions of the new patent law. This deprives farmers what they and many others worldwide claim as their inherent right to save and replant seeds.

The new law is presented as being necessary to ensure the supply of good quality seeds in Iraq and to facilitate Iraq’s accession to the WTO. What it will actually do is facilitate the penetration of Iraqi agriculture by the likes of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow Chemical — the corporate giants that control seed trade across the globe. (Source: Organic Consumers’ Association press release)

Particularly galling is that this measure is meant to ‘facilitate Iraq’s accession to the WTO.’ As if Iraq were an ally receiving equal treatment and a place at the capitalist table, rather than a colonial possession being forced at gunpoint to serve as a proving ground for new and untried methods of corporate domination.

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