This is long, but it's important to farmers

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by papaw, Aug 28, 2006.

  1. papaw

    papaw Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    New Iraq Patent Law Will Make Traditional Farmers Seed Saving Illegal

    November 15, 2004, Issue #380
    Monitoring Corporate Agribusiness
    >From a Public Interest Perspective

    TO RECEIVE: Send name and address


    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.

    Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a whole new chapter on Plant
    Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of
    plants." PVP is an intellectual property right (IPR) or a kind of patent for
    plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material
    to a plant breeder who claims to have discovered or developed a new variety.

    So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers
    to safeguarding of the commercial interests of private breeders (usually
    large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.

    To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the
    UPOV Convention, which requires them be new, distinct, uniform and stable.
    Farmers' seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the
    exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant breeders in
    this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export,
    import and store the protected varieties.

    These rights extend to harvested material, including whole plants and parts
    of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety. This kind of PVP
    system is often the first step towards allowing the full-fledged patenting
    of life forms. Indeed, in this case the rest of the law does not rule out
    the patenting of plants or animals.

    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.

    Eliminating competition from farmers is a prerequisite for these companies
    to open up operations in Iraq, which the new law has achieved. Taking over
    the first step in the food chain is their next move.

    The new patent law also explicitly promotes the commercialisation of
    genetically modified (GM) seeds in Iraq. Despite serious resistance from
    farmers and consumers around the world, these same companies are pushing GM
    crops on farmers around the world for their own profit. Contrary to what the
    industry is asserting, GM seeds do not reduce the use of pesticides, but
    they pose a threat to the environment and to people's health while they
    increase farmers dependency on agribusiness.

    In some countries like India, the 'accidental' release of GM crops is
    deliberately manipulated, since physical segregation of GM and GM-free crops
    is not feasible. Once introduced into the agro-ecological cycle there is no
    possible recall or cleanup from genetic pollution.

    As to the WTO argument, Iraq legally has a number of options for complying
    with the organisation's rules on intellectual property but the US simply
    decided that Iraq should not enjoy or explore them.

    Iraq is one more arena in a global drive for the adoption of seed patent
    laws protecting the monopoly rights of multinational corporations at the
    expense of local farmers. Over the past decade, many countries of the South
    have been compelled to adopt seed patent laws through bilateral treaties.
    The U.S. has pushed for UPOV-styled plant protection laws beyond the IPR
    standards of the WTO in bilateral trade through agreements for example with
    Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

    Likewise, post-conflict countries have been especially targeted. For
    instance, as part of its reconstruction package the U.S. has recently signed
    a Trade and Investment
    Framework Agreement with Afghanistan, which would also include IPR-related

    Iraq is a special case in that the adoption of the patent law was not part
    of negotiations between sovereign countries. Nor did a sovereign law-making
    body enact it as reflecting the will of the Iraqi people. In Iraq, the
    patent law is just one more component in the comprehensive and radical
    transformation of the occupied country's economy along neo-liberal lines by
    the occupying powers. This transformation would entail not just the adoption
    of favoured laws but also the establishment of institutions that are most
    conducive to a free market regime.

    Order 81 is just one of 100 Orders left behind by Bremer and among the more
    notable of these laws is the controversial Order 39 which effectively lays
    down the over-all legal framework for Iraq's economy by giving foreign
    investors rights equal to Iraqis in exploiting Iraq's domestic market.

    Taken together, all these laws, which cover virtually all aspects of the
    economy --- including Iraq's trade regime, the mandate of the Central Bank,
    regulations on trade union activities, etc. --- lay the bases for the U.S.'
    bigger objective of building a neo-liberal regime in Iraq. Order 81
    explicitly states that its provisions are consistent
    with Iraq's "transition from a non-transparent centrally planned economy to
    a free market economy characterised by sustainable economic growth through
    the establishment of a dynamic private sector, and the need to enact
    institutional and legal reforms to give it effect."

    Pushing for these "reforms" in Iraq has been the US Agency for International
    Development, which has been implementing an Agricultural Reconstruction and
    Development Program for Iraq (ARDI) since October 2003. To carry it out, a
    one-year U.S.$5 million contract was granted to the U.S. consulting firm
    Development Alternatives, Inc. with the Texas A&M University as an
    implementing partner.

    Part of the work has been sub-contracted to Sagric International of
    Australia. The goal of ARDI in the name of rebuilding the farming sector is
    to develop the agribusiness opportunities and thus provide markets for
    agricultural products and services from overseas.

    Reconstruction work, thus, is not necessarily about rebuilding domestic
    economies and capacities, but about helping corporations approved by the
    occupying forces to capitalise on market opportunities in Iraq. The legal
    framework laid down by Bremer ensures that although U.S. troops may leave
    Iraq in the conceivable future, US domination of Iraq's economy is here to

    Food sovereignty is the right of people to define their own food and
    agriculture policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural
    production and trade, to decide the way food should be produced, what should
    be grown locally and what should be imported.

    The demand for food sovereignty and the opposition to the patenting of seeds
    has been central to the small farmers' struggle all over the world over the
    past decade. By fundamentally altering the IPR regime, the U.S. has ensured
    that Iraq's agricultural system will remain under "occupation" in Iraq.

    Iraq has the potential to feed itself. But instead of developing this
    capacity, the U.S. has shaped the future of Iraq's food and farming to serve
    the interests of US corporations. The new IPR regime pays scant respect to
    Iraqi farmers' contributions to the development of important crops like
    wheat, barley, date and pulses.

    While political sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the
    Iraqi people has already been made near impossible by these new regulations.
    Iraq's freedom and sovereignty will remain questionable for as long as
    Iraqis do not have control over what they sow, grow, reap and eat. [
    November, 2004 ]
  2. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

    Sep 16, 2005
    AR (ozarks)
    Thanks Pawpaw cant say I am surprised by this though my anger is no less for it.

  3. veme

    veme Well-Known Member Supporter

    Dec 2, 2005
    That is really scarey!
  4. tooltime

    tooltime Border Ruffian

    Nov 16, 2003
    Might be relevant if you were planning on farming in Iraq.

    They passed the first version of the Plant Variety Protection Act here in the USA in 1970. Under this law, you could save PVP seed for your own use as long as you didn't save more than needed to plant your normal acreage. Then, they amended this law in 1994 to say that you can't save any PVP seed without the permission of the varietey of the owner. If the seed tag says PVP (94), you can't legally save it for seed.

    I raise oats, some of which I sell for certified seed, so you've gotta keep up on the laws.

    When I buy the foundation seed on the PVP varieties, I have to pay a licensing fee.

    You shouldn't be surprised by this, this law has existed in some form for 36 years, and the stricter amendment for 12 years.
  5. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

    Sep 16, 2005
    AR (ozarks)
    What is even more scary is the new seed terminator technology imagine that getting out into our heirloom seeds
  6. tsdave

    tsdave Grand Marshal

    Nov 3, 2002
    To point out the obvious, they say
    " For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system." ...

    and they still may, if they use their old seeds. They just cant buy GM seeds and replant them (without permission).

    I agree with banning the terminator seeds though, its way to dangerous !
  7. Hip_Shot_Hanna

    Hip_Shot_Hanna Well-Known Member

    Apr 2, 2005
    In 1983, Delta & Pine Land (D&PL) joined with the US Department of Agriculture in a project to develop Terminator seeds. It was one of the earliest experiments with GMO. It was a long-term project. The US Government has been serious about Terminator beginning more than two decades agoIn March 1998 the US Patent Office granted Patent No. 5,723,765 to Delta & Pine Land for a patent titled, Control of Plant Gene Expression. The patent is owned jointly, according to Delta & Pine’s Security & Exchange Commission 10K filing, ‘by D&PL and the United States of America, as represented by the Secretary of Agriculture.’

    The patent has global coverage. To quote further from the official D&PL SEC filing, ‘The patent broadly covers all species of plant and seed, both transgenic (GMO-ed) and conventional, for a system designed to allow control of progeny seed viability without harming the crop’(sic).

    Then, in a manner reminiscent of Big Brother in George Orwell’s novel, 1984, D&PL claims, ‘One application of the technology could be to control unauthorized planting of seed of proprietary varieties…by making such a practice non-economic since non-authorized saved seed will not germinate, and, therefore, would be useless for planting.’ D&PL calls the thousand-year-old tradition of farmer-saved seed by the pejorative term, ‘brown bagging’ as though it is something dirty and corrupt.

    Translated into lay language, D&PL officially declares the purpose of its Patent No. 5,723,765, Control of Plant Gene Expression, is to prevent farmers who once get trapped into buying transgenic or GMO seeds from a company such as Monsanto or Syngenta, from ‘brown bagging’ or being able to break free of control of their future crops by Monsanto and friends. As D&PL puts it, their patent gives them ‘the prospect of opening significant worldwide seed markets to the sale of transgenic technology in varietal crops in which crop seed currently is saved and used in subsequent seasons as planting seed.’

    Instead, the farmer or the country whose farmers depend on Monsanto patented GMO seeds must pay a license fee to Monsanto each year to get new seeds. ‘No tickee, no laundy,’ as the old Brooklyn poet would say.
  8. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004

    The terminator deal is older than most other GMO seed technology, & proved to not work very well at all. For all practical use, it has been totally abandoned. It never, never was used out in public for anything, and don't even hear about it any more, no plans to add it any more.

    There is nothing 'new' about it, again this is all very old news.

    Are we really this far behind in what is going on in the world? The NAIS stuff, GMO stuff, insecticide stuff, seed patent stuff - seems people think several decades old info is 'breaking news' when actually it is a generation or 2 behind what is actually being practiced these days.

    I know, I'm a farmer so I _need_ to know about this stuff and be on top of the newest laws & info & research, but I would think homesteader types would be closer to the land & be keeping up on these topics - somewhat - as well.

  9. GK Chickenhawk

    GK Chickenhawk Paradoxically Yours

    Jul 8, 2006
    Overheard in the courtroom:

    "You stand accused of murdering Colonel Peacock with a candlestick in the drawing room..."

    "Yes, but that was ages ago. Can we please talk about something new?"

    Rambler, do you mean to say that these issues are irrelevant today or simply that they are old? The two don't necessarily go together. Just seeking a clarification.
  10. electronrider

    electronrider Well-Known Member

    Nov 10, 2004
    West Central Indiana
    Rambler, you are correct. I find that on this board, and many other homesteading, self sufficiency, and survivalist boards, every time this makes the news somewhere in the world, It's posted up as the latest " AH HA! " conspiracy to be found out. What people should REALLY be doing is getting together and investing all they can into a seed company that promotes heirloom seed, spend a hundred million in crop research to better compete with hypbrids, and market them as the next " Green earth revolution in farming". This says nothing about farmer sahad that still keeps his seed every year to feed his family, jsut like many of us do here. This is merely the same U.S law used to protect the big boys like monsato from having to deal with "shiek fahik seed company" that steals the genetic lines of crop plants. Now that monsato and the others have assurances that they wont get ripped of, they can go in and safely market and produce whatever it is they grow over there. It really is a shame that people put such a spin on their news articles; the above article generally fails journalistic rules of integrity.
  11. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004


    I know.


    I am genuinely totally surprised that HT folks I consider intelligent & informed on rural/farm/ag issues actually don't have a clue on these issues by now. Most are 20 or more years old. This thread starts with a news headline over 2 years old, which is going back some just right there.

    It takes me aback some.

    It is as if someone posted a message about the new unleaded gas - "What happened to the lead in our gas, why did they take that away?"

    Huh? Where you been? Happened in '74, kinda something anyone with a car woulda probably heard about...... The issue sailed a long time ago & is water under the bridge. Fine to discuss it, but lead won't be coming back.....

    I understand not many in the general public would know or care about GMO, ethanol, NAIS, COOL. I'm just surprised the good folks here have not been aware of these rural/ag issues a long time ago - when they were first brought up. A good time to comment on, change, modify an issue is when it is new. Once it's in place, all we can be is grousing old biddies that complain but do nothing.....

    Just commenting in fun, and in conversation. Hope to include others, and that they would include me.

    Don't take life too seriously. Sometimes folks just like to make a little comment, ok? :)

    Have a good one.

  12. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

    Sep 26, 2005

    it does take some news a little time to get around. nascar just recently got the lead out.
  13. poorboy

    poorboy Well-Known Member Supporter

    Apr 15, 2006
    ozark foothills, Mo
    'What people should REALLY be doing is getting together and investing all they can into a seed company that promotes heirloom seed,"
    Doesn't require a big investment just patronize companies like Baker Creek Seeds, they are already doing the work providing us with great heirloom seeds, all we have to do is pick out a good company like this and do business with them..:-}
  14. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

    Sep 16, 2005
    AR (ozarks)
    That is what I do buy from the small independent heirloom seed companies. Though I also save my own some.
  15. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    And Indy cars are switching from methanol to ethanol next year.

    There's hope. :)

  16. papaw

    papaw Well-Known Member

    Jan 21, 2005
    My point in posting this was not to say it was "news", but rather to inform people who didn't already know about it and prehaps get a discussion on the topic.

    It is obvious that the "farmers" of old didn't care enough to make a difference in these matters. A NEW crop that was easier to grow and had less pest damage SOUNDED wonderful several years ago.... but the long term effect of these crops on the crops (maybe all the plants) of the earth is unimaginable. It is irresponsible and it's going against what I believe we as humans think of as our better interests. We are to be caretakers of the earth ... not rapist who gleen every penny we can from everything we come in contact with.

    Yes, there have always been "improvements on nature" ... but it's like killing a wasp .... if we kill the wasp that's in the house, no real change is seen .... but if we kill every wasp on the planet, it wouldn't be a good thing.
  17. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004
    Another way to view that comment: It's ok for _me me me_ to change nature, as long as I force the rest of you to do nothing so you can preserve the planet for _me me me_.

    That is how the enviro-crowd sometimes appears. This is not a comment about you specificly, but a general comment.

    Either we need to all be hunter gatherers as 5000 or so years ago.

    Or we can raise crops. When the Pilgims landed here, the Native Americans showed them how to throw fish under the corn seed for fertilizer to improve the yeild. Modify the environment.

    Can't have it both ways.

    Can't be that it is ok for you to kill a wasp, but wrong for everyone else.

    Can't be that fertilizer is ok for you, but wrong for everyone else.

    That type of thinking will get you nowhere.

    If you want to draw some artificial line restricting farming.... that is all you have. An artificial line. There will be no rhyme or reason to it.

  18. Trixie

    Trixie Well-Known Member

    Aug 25, 2006
    New here, but, we can't just say ,'but that is happening in Iraq'. It is not just in Iraq, but what happens with the food supply anywhere in the world can affect all of us. What is happening in Iraq is not 'old news'. We have only been there a few years.

    Also, big corporations have gotten patents recorded for many indigenous plants around the world. In India they are fighting this in court and have gotten the patents released on some things like basmahti (sp?) rice and other very old plants. The prgram I saw stated that many of the p atents on their indigenious plants was in the US patent office.

    This is big news. It may be old news and if it is, that just seems to me to be more sinister in that probably only a very small percentage of the people in this country realize it. Even when they are told, it takes some time to explain the relevance to their own lives.

    The 'terminator', I assume is the process that renders saved seeds sterile, so even if you save, you it won't germinate. I find that terribly frightening.

    There was just an article somewhere that some of the engineered grains or grasses were pollinating with native grasses. That bothers me.

    I personally don't like the idea of big corporations deciding what I can plant, when I can plant it and whatever I decide to do, I will have to purchase from them.

    The same is happening to water supplies around the world. We think because it is in 3rd world countries, it can't happen here. I am quite sure it already has - we just don't realize it. If it hasn't, it is in the works.

    Then we have the animal registration program. In Texas, it seems that anyone with any animals will have to register theirs individually - but big corporations only register theirs as a herd. I don't have any idea how many animals constitute a 'herd', but I suspect it will be a number that benefits big agribusiness.

    I do not for a moment think the animal program or the water conservative programs have anything to do with making a better country or a safer country. It is all about controlling people.

    The things may have been started years ago, but they are marching forward with alarming speed.
  19. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

    Sep 16, 2005
    AR (ozarks)
  20. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Jan 20, 2004

    Yes, that is the Terminator deal. It works in the lab sort of, but has turned out to not be worth while as some in the industry had hoped. Took too long, was too difficult, & cost to much to apply to a whole crop. So for the time being, it is a - dead issue. :) :)

    Yes on the grasses. Golf courses & other such were pretty interested in a grass that could have glysophate applied to it. The plan was that these golf courses would keep their lawns so manicured that it would never go to seed & never cross pollinate into the wild.


    Much like the StarLink deal in corn: The company thought they would get appoval for Starlink so grew a lot of seed. Delays on the appoval, so they sold the seed to be used for animal feed only.


    I understand the opposition to the goofy ideas, and debating the issues is cool. Sometimes I share the opposition. Creating a glysophate resistant grass is just stupid. Duh.

    Placing pateints on established seeds - or pateinting any life form in the first place - goes against my nature. To be sure, I don't agree with it.

    But that happened several decades ago, and, well, no one really cared. The ship has sailed, and I don't see the point to just complaining about the past.

    Rather than saying farmers don't care as someone said above - no one listened to farmers decades ago, and they have learned to move on & continue living. Had to. It just doesn't help to argue the issue 20-30 years after it has already happened.

    Would have been nice to have folks on board a while ago. Pretty darned late now. It's like putting toothpaste back into the tube. :)

    Universities have either incorporated or partnered with a private company and no longer produce public seed any more. They want the $$$ just as much as the big seed companies. The land grant universities are no longer for the public good, even tho they use public money. That too changed about 20 years ago.