Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Iron Fist vs. Invisible Hand 

Courtesy of our esteemed colleague Susan Madrak at Suburban Guerrilla (a preliminary Koufax nominee for Blog Most Deserving of Wider Recognition), one more reason why those former Baathists, Saddam loyalists, and "dead-enders" seem to increase in number by an order of magnitude every time you hiccup. From the Canadian weekly Western Catholic Reporter:
It is a ritual as old as civilization itself. In fact, seed saving made it possible for mankind to move from being hunter-gatherers to farmers more than 10,000 years ago. Rather than being dependent on hunting for survival, our ancient relatives created a renewable supply of food by harvesting seeds at the end of each growing season, and sowing them the following spring . . . .

A joint report by two international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), GRAIN and Focus on the Global South, reveals that new legislation in Iraq makes transnational corporations the only place where farmers can get their seed. The legislation, which the groups claim has been carefully orchestrated by the U.S., renders the ancient art of seed saving illegal.

"The U.S. has been imposing patents on life around the world through trade deals. In this case, they invaded the country first, and then imposed their patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani, one of the report's authors . . . .

"This is a disastrous turn of events for Iraqi farmers, biodiversity and the country's food security," states a GRAIN news release. "While political sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has been made near impossible by these new regulations."

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that in 2002, 97 per cent of Iraqi farmers used saved seed from their own stocks from the previous year's harvest, or purchased seed from local markets. When the Iraqi law goes into effect, seed saving will be illegal. Instead, farmers will be forced to purchase proprietary "PVP-protected" planting material from transnational agribusiness corporations.

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