By Pandurang Hegde
The invasion of Iraq is unique because it has led to an order to terminate the life from seed, taking away farmers’ freedom to grow what they want to grow.
Following on the heels of Earth Day (April 22) comes International Seed Day (April 26). But there is no doubt that it will not be celebrated in the United States and many countries in Europe. Neither will this be endorsed by the United Nations or Food and Agricultural Organisation. The reason is obvious; it is launched by common people, especially by the ordinary farmers in Iraq who lost the sovereignty not only of their country, but of their seeds. It was on April 26, 2004 that Order 81 was passed by the Coalition Authority prohibiting Iraqi farmers from using their own seeds and forcing them to buy seeds from multinational seed corporations from the US and Europe.
The world has witnessed innumerable wars and occupations, but the invasion of Iraq is unique because it has led to an order to terminate the life from seed, taking away farmers’ freedom to grow what they want to grow. The common people in the world thought that the war was for oil, but the perpetrators of the occupation have clearly shown their meanness by attacking the life giving seed. Having failed to find any WMD (weapons of mass destruction), they attacked the seed sovereignty, backed by the sheer unethical greed of global seed giants. It is the launching of world war for the control of seeds.
What does the Order 81 say? It says that the farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety. The terminology might sound funny, but the intention is clear, according to the Order the genetically altered seeds are called “protected variety” and the unregistered or local seeds are referred to as “infringing variety”! The new order gives corporations complete control over farmers’ seeds. Iraqi farmers have to sign an agreement to pay a “technology fee” plus an annual license fee. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) made seed saving and reusing illegal as well as “similar” seed plantings punishable by severe fines and imprisonment.
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