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American Multinational Firms Stealing Iraqi Grain Seeds

American Multinational Firms Stealing Iraqi Grain


When the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO)
biodiversity on World Food Day on October 16, Iraqi
farmers will be mourning its

A new report [1] 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 [2] 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

"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
[3]. "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
biodiversity that we have witnessed in recent decades.
The FAO cannot hope
to embrace biodiversity while holding industry's
hand", he added.


Shalini Bhutani in India
[Tel: +91 11 243
15 168 (work) or
+91 98 104 33 076 (cell)]
or Alexis Vaughan in United
[Tel: +44
79 74 39 34 87 (mobile)]

From Focus on the Global South
Herbert Docena in
[Tel:+63 2
972 382 3804]


[1] Visit
GRAIN and Focus' report is entitled "Iraq's new patent
law: a
declaration of war against farmers". Against the grain
is a series of short
opinion pieces on recent trends and developments in
the issues that GRAIN
works on. This one has been produced collaboratively
with Focus on the
Global South.

[2] Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed
Information, Integrated
Circuits and Plant Variety Law of 2004, CPA Order No.
81, 26 April 2004,

[3] GRAIN, "FAO declares war on farmers, not hunger",
New from Grain,
16 June 2004,