The Green Party endorses International Seeds Day on April 26, calls for the repeal of Order 81 making Iraqi farmers dependent on US firms
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For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
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WASHINGTON, DC -- The Green Party of the United States has endorsed International Seeds Day (ISD, http://www.INEAS.org/20090426_PR.pdf) on April 26, which will mark the fifth anniversary of the passage and signing of Order 81 by Paul Bremer, administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.
Order 81 (http://www.trade.gov/static/iraq_memo81.pdf) prohibits Iraqi farmers from reusing seeds harvested from new varieties introduced in Iraq and registered under the law. According to the law, farmers are banned from saving such seeds and required to pay royalties to the holder of the patent on the seed -- an American corporation. The Iraqi constitution has historically prohibited ownership of biological resources.
ISD, organized by the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS, http://www.INEAS.org), will educate the public and media about the importance of biodiversity and seed saving; the dangers of genetically modified food and patent seeds; the ruinous effect of Order 81 on Iraqi agriculture; and the growing resistance to the power of giant agribusinesses over seed resources.
"Order 81 has made farmers in Iraq -- who have planted since 7000 BCE -- dependent on companies like Monsanto. We call on President Obama and Congress to repeal Order 81 immediately," said Sanda Everette, permaculture designer and a co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.
"Monsanto has a record of selling pest-resistant seeds that have been genetically engineered for sterility to farmers around the world, rendering the farmers permanently dependent. Order 81 has turned Iraq into a feeding trough for favored US corporations, just as the Iraqi hydrocarbon law gives US and British oil companies control over most Iraqi oil. The US invasion and occupation of Iraq have proven to be an exercise in death and destruction for the sake of corporate pillage," said Ms. Everette.
According to INEAS, "[f]armers in Iraq have operated in a mostly free-to-little-regulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seeds and the free exchange of planting materials among farmers have long been the basis of agricultural practice in Iraq. Yet all of this has become history.... The purpose of Order 81 is to facilitate the establishment of a new seed market in Iraq, one in which Iraqi farmers are forced to make their annual purchase of seeds, including those that are genetically modified, from transnational corporations."
INEAS notes that Order 81 grants US firms complete control over Iraqi farmers' seed for 20 years, requiring them to sign an agreement to pay a 'technology fee' and an annual license fee. "Plant Variety Protection (PVP) made seed reusing and saving illegal as well as 'similar' seed plantings punishable by severe fines and imprisonment. Agribusiness wants the same rights everywhere, including in the USA. This will jeopardize the future of organic and independent farming."
Similar laws have placed many developing countries in Africa and Asia, including Afghanistan and India, at the mercy of foreign agribusiness monopolies.
The Green Party supports the right of farmers to save their own seeds and preserve the heritage that farmers have developed over thousands of years to sustain human populations. Greens advocate the establishment of international seed banks such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.
Greens support protection for small farms, farmers' markets, and organically and locally grown produce in the US and around the world, all of which have been threatened by agribusinesses like Monsanto, Archer Daniels Midland, and Tyson. The Green Party opposes genetic modification of organisms used for food and supports legislation to protect the public from threats to biodiversity from seed stocks created by corporations.
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The Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS)
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The Organic Revolution
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GM Science Exposed
"The soils of war: The real agenda behind agricultural reconstruction in Afghanistan and Iraq"
Grain, March 2009
"Order 81 and the plunder of farming"
By Latha Jishnu, April 1, 2009, Business Standard (India)
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