Sunday, May 4, 2008

How to obliterate nations

This is a long excerpt from an older article (2005) by Ghali Hassan. Read on. Food crisis? What food crisis?

"Just before announcing his departure from Iraq and handing "power" to the U.S.-installed band of discredited quislings (the so-called "transfer of [fake] sovereignty"), U.S. proconsul and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Paul Bremer issued "100 Orders" to transfer Iraq's economy and legal ownership of Iraqi resources into the private hands of U.S. corporations.

Order 81 deals specifically with Plant Variety Protection (PVP) because it is designed to protect the commercial interests of corporate seed companies. Its aim is to force Iraqi farmers to plant so-called "protected" crop varieties 'defined as new, distinct uniform and stable', and most likely genetically modified. This means Iraqi farmers will have one choice; to buy PVP registered seeds. Order 81 opens the way for patenting (ownership) of plant forms, and facilitates the introduction of genetically modified crops or organisms (GMOs) to Iraq. U.S. agricultural biotechnology corporations, such as Monsanto and Syngenta will be the beneficiaries. [4] Iraqi farmers will be forced to buy their seeds from these corporations. GMOs will replace the old tradition of breeding closely related plants, and replace them with organisms composed of DNA from an altogether different species, e.g., bacterium genes into corn. In the long run, there won't be a big enough gene pool for genetic viability.

Upon purchasing the patented seeds, farmers must sign the company's technology agreement (Technology User Agreements). This agreement allows the company to control farmers' practices and conduct property investigation. The farmer becomes the slave of the company. Like U.S. farmers, Iraqi farmers will be "harassed for doing what they have always done." For example, Iraqi farmers can be sued by Monsanto, if their non-GMO crops are polluted by GMO crops planted in their vicinity. [5] The health and environmental consequences of GMO crops are still unknown. GMO-based agriculture definitely encourages monoculture and genetic pollution. Moreover, this will further increase the already polluted Iraqi environment as a result of tens of thousands of tons of 'depleted' uranium dust, napalm, chemical weapons, and phosphorous bombs.

Farmers will also be required to buy fertilisers, herbicides and insecticides, against plants disease. Iraqi farmers will be required to pay royalties for the new seeds and they will be forbidden from saving seeds. In other words, Iraqi farmers will become agricultural producers for export, a recipe for the introduction of hunger in Iraq, not unknown in many developing countries. Unless an independent sovereign Iraqi government repeals these edicts, they will override Iraq's original patent law of 1970, which, in accordance with the Iraqi constitution, prohibited private ownership of biological resources.

Furthermore, Order 81 ignores Iraqi farmers' old traditions of saving seeds, and using their knowledge to breed and plant their crops. It also brutally disregards the contributions which Iraqi farmers have made over hundreds of generations to the development of important crops like wheat, barley, dates and pulses. If anybody owns those varieties and their unique virtues, it is the families who bred them, even though nobody has described or characterized them in terms of their genetic makeup. If anything, the new law -- in allowing old varieties to be genetically manipulated or otherwise modified and then "registered" -- involves the theft of inherited intellectual property, the loss of farmers' freedoms, and the destruction of food sovereignty in Iraq.

Iraqi traditional plant varieties, which were kept in Iraq's gene bank at the town of Abu Ghraib -- the town where the Bush administration used the prison to abuse, torture and murder Iraqi prisoners and detainees --may have been looted and lost during the invasion. There is hope that the Syria-based Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the affiliated International Centre for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA) still holds accessions of several Iraqi varieties in the form of germplasm. Evidence shows that Western "bio-prospectors" have been using indigenous genetic material taken from their traditional owners. [6] It is this kind of looting or "biopiracy" that is contributing to the destruction of farmers in the developing world, because they have lost control of what they sow, grow, reap and eat.

The man who is in charge of dismantling Iraq's agriculture is Daniel Amstutz, formerly an executive of the Cargill Corporation. Cargill is well known for having the reputation of being one the worst violators of the rights and independence of family farmers throughout the world. Amstutz appointment is designed to undermine Iraqi farmers and destroy Iraq's ability to produce food to feed its people. His service has been to advance U.S. agribusiness corporations. [8] For his task, Amstutz will be assisted by no others than Cargill, Monsanto, Dow and Texas A & M's Agriculture Program and its subsidiary the Arizona-based agriculture research firm, World Wide Wheat Company. All are known to have innately unjust records doing business in developing countries and enslaving farmers there.

According to Focus on the Global South and GRAIN report: "Iraq has the potential to feed its people. But instead of developing this capacity, Washington is shaping the future of Iraq's food and farming to serve the interests of U.S. corporations." [7] The aim of the U.S. is to undermine Iraq's food security, and remove all the contributions Iraqi farmers have made to development of agriculture and important crops like wheat, and barley. [9] Iraq's agriculture will be re-engineered to produce high yields agricultural products for export, and force Iraq to depend on importing food, and on Western "aid."

"If Iraq's new administration truly wanted to re-establish Iraqi agriculture for the benefit of the Iraqi people it would seek out the fruits of their knowledge. It could scour the country for successful farms, and if it miraculously found none could bring over the seeds from ICARDA and use those as the basis of a programme designed to give Iraq back the agriculture it once gave [to] the world," writes Jeremy Smith. [6]

Consistent with agricultural research, what Iraqi farmers need urgently is not GMOs and chemicals, but the opposite. Iraq needs ways to better control pathogens and pests by greater use of natural enemies and crop diversity. As accurately described by Vandana Shiva, "The miracle varieties displaced the diversity of traditionally grown crops, and through the erosion of diversity the new seeds became a mechanism for introducing and fostering pests." Shiva added; "Indigenous varieties are resistant to local pests and diseases. Even if certain diseases occur, some of the strains may be susceptible, but others will have resistance to survive." [10] Diversity of seeds is the best natural defence. Without diversity, plants are very susceptible to disease.

1 comment:

Leila Abu-Saba said...

This is so criminal it makes me furious, it makes my blood boil. It's not just murdering individuals, it's destroying the future of a country.
Let's hope the empire collapses quickly so that its damage might begin to be undone.