Sunday, February 1, 2009

Iraq and Washington’s ‘seeds of democracy’

‘The reason we are in Iraq is to plant the seeds of democracy so they flourish there and spread to the entire region of authoritarianism.’ - George W. Bush

When George W. Bush spoke of planting the ‘seeds of democracy’ few realized he might have had in mind Monsanto seeds.

Iraq is part of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization, where the fertile valley between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers created ideal conditions for crop cultivation. Iraqi farmers have existed since approximately 8,000 B.C. and had developed the rich seed variety for almost every variety of wheat used in the world today. They did this through a system of saving a share of seeds and replanting, developing new naturally resistant hybrid varieties through the new plantings.

For years, the Iraqis had held samples of such precious natural seed varieties in a national seed bank, located, ironically, in Abu Ghraib, the city made infamous as a US military torture prison site in 2004. Following the US occupation and various bombing campaigns, the historic and invaluable seed bank in Abu Ghraib vanished, a possible further casualty of the Iraq war.

Bremer’s Pentagon advisers had very different plans for Iraq’s food future.

Iraqi agriculture was to be ‘modernized,’ industrialized and reoriented away from traditional family multi-crop farming, into US-style agribusiness enterprises, producing for the ‘world market.’ Serving the food security needs of hungry Iraqis would be purely incidental to that plan.

The CPA’s Order 81, behind the cover of complicated legal jargon, in effect, turned the food future of Iraq over to global multinational private companies, hardly the liberation most Iraqis had hoped for.

Order 81 on Intellectual Property Rights, was not negotiated between a sovereign government and the WTO, or another government. It was imposed on Iraq without debate, from Washington. According to informed Washington reports, the specific details of Order 81 on plants were written for the US Government by Monsanto Corporation, the world’s leading purveyor of GMO seeds and crops.

Iraq's new patent law: A declaration of war against farmers