Thursday, June 01, 2006

The shriveled Wheat seeds of Abu Ghraib

The Editor of the Ecologist Magazine of Britain Mr. Jeremy Smith has recently written a most worrisome article about the ill-fate grafting globalization of Iraq’s agricultural sector, and the problem of the US companies patent seeds:

“The Iraqis were distinguished by the improvement of the productivity and the natural hybridization. They had exchanged the experiences and the knowledge with their neighbors. Their seeds were adjusted and pollinated in changeable of the nature and the circumstances, and coexisted in many variations that all harmonized with the local needs.

In the seventies the Iraqi government gathered this huge inheritance in ‘the National Bank of Seeds’ in Abu Ghraib when the Iraqi farmers used their local seeds by the ratio of 97 % according to their rightful general ‘intellectual property’ - coincidently one of the seeds variations was named the Wheat Seeds of Abu Ghraib - and the trend carried on until the commencement of the occupation in 2003 when the deterioration has taken its toll on the agricultural sector.

The late military governor Paul Bremer had found the opportunity suitable for an American style agricultural restructuring that eliminates the right of the general intellectual property for the local seeds, and allows the US seeds companies to ‘teach’ the local farmers the rediscovery of Wheat growing based on commercial patents!

Although the US disputes Iraq’s huge Wheat production capabilities prior to the occupation, but as per FAO Iraq’s wheat production had trickled from 1236 thousand tons in 1995 down to 348 thousand tons by 2000 due to the prolongation of the harsh economic sanctions and the geopolitical instabilities at that time.

And indeed in mid 2004 Mr. Bremer has introduced [in line with UPOV policies] clause # 81 concerning the intellectual property for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants but not the biodiversity of plants, which automatically phase out the Iraqi local seeds. UPOV generally specify new, well-measured and symmetrical types of seeds, which make the US seeds companies a few of the sole suppliers for the Iraqi local farmers. The local seeds will not be graded or even accepted by the UPOV seeds criteria due to their organic biodiversity with their natural surroundings, which will make them look old and 'deformed!' But in reality they are the best option there is for the Mesopotamia. But with the new laws, the local farmers will be forced to buy ‘cool’ looking ‘patent’ seeds, which will eventually pollute the natural environment, and will force the local farmers to buy them anew every year; conversely, they will not be able to use their local seeds ever if they were naturally pollinated - and they will be - by the patented seeds [Free Market!!]

And in line with the reconstruction policy of Iraq the US has installed an ace or a guru for every ministry there is to implement the mechanism of the global markets and democracy, which coincidentally happened that most of those gurus are working for the notorious Bearing Point company - a company that works pretty closely with the White House and the Pentagon!

The [occupying forces] have distributed the patent seeds in Mosul as part of humanitarian aids – similar to those in the poor Latin American countries.

But where do those humanitarian aids come from? According to ‘The Business Journal of Phoenix’ a huge Arizona based company by the name of ‘World Wide Wheat Company’ (WWWC) that coordinates with research and development departments in three US universities, is the sole supplier of Wheat seeds to Iraq. However, and as per the Seedquest (WWWC) are major trade cartel of varieties of ‘patent’ seeds! Which hitherto have provided 6 kinds of seeds to the Iraqi farmers.

Once the Iraqi farmers commence in planting those patent seeds then there will be no U-turn. Those patent seeds will eventually hybridize [pollute] the surrounding local seeds, which will make those local seeds protected intellectual property of the giant patent seeds companies, and that will force the Iraqi farmer to buy foreign seeds every year with the ‘appropriate’ fertilizers, and in a few years the expenses will surpass the returns, which means the end of the Wheat farming in the Mesopotamia.

The newly elected Iraqi government [under occupation] is considering a request for the withdrawal of the [occupying forces]. It is pertinent to consider a request for the withdrawal of those patent seeds companies before it’s too late, and to reestablish ‘the National Bank of Seeds’ in Abu Ghraib as it is a natural Iraqi agricultural heritage. Samples of the Iraqi seeds can be obtained from ‘the Center for Agricultural Research the Dry Area' in Syria or from ‘Focus on the Global South’ in Thailand.”

BC calls upon the appropriate Iraqi ministry to heed and act accordingly.


At 7:06 AM, Blogger The Wicker Man said...

This is an appalling development as well as a sinister one. Just another day's work in Iraq for the occupying aggressors.

At 9:39 PM, Blogger g said...

This is critical news that needs to be told: thank you. Also, are there still any networks of growers/farmers in Iraq who are resisting these nefarious measures by saving and circulating heirloom/open-pollinated varieites?


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