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Fwd: Seed

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  • Malika
    Dear all, below a message about recent developments concerning seed policies in Iraq. As it is much related to the work of Mr. Fukuoka, a development he was
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 11, 2004
      Dear all,

      below a message about recent developments concerning seed policies in
      Iraq. As it is much related to the work of Mr. Fukuoka, a development
      he was always trying to prevent while travelling around the world to
      save and share seeds, and reverse desertification, I thought it
      approriate to post this news here.

      All this can be an extra motivation for me, you and all of us, to
      strive to keep alive the message and practice that Mr. Fukuoka and
      others have been teaching.

      Peace & love,
      The Netherlands

      Your Earth
      Friday, October 29, 2004 Suzanne Elston

      It is a ritual as old as civilization itself. In fact, seed saving made it
      possible for mankind to move from being hunter-gathers to farmers more than
      10,000 years ago. Rather than being dependent on hunting for survival, our
      ancient relatives created a renewable supply of food by harvesting seeds at
      the end of each growing season, and sowing them the following spring.

      It was a pivotal point in our development as a species. It not only put an
      end to our nomadic existence, but it also allowed for the establishment of
      early communities that formed the foundation of modern civilization. No
      small feat for a tiny little seed.

      To emphasize the importance of seed saving, consider my favourite and most
      inspirational environmental quote from Dr. Rosalie Bertell:

      "The purpose of the environmental movement is to save the seed. Whether
      it's a fish, or a bird, or a baby, they all come from the seed, all into
      time," said Dr. Bertell. "And if we damage that seed, then there's no place
      else to get it."

      Apparently not. Especially if you're a poor Iraqi farmer. A joint report by
      two international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), GRAIN and Focus on
      the Global South, reveals that new legislation in Iraq makes transnational
      corporations the only place where farmers can get their seed. The
      legislation, which the groups claim has been carefully orchestrated by the
      US, renders the ancient art of seed saving illegal.

      "The US has been imposing patents on life around the world through trade
      deals. In this case, they invaded the country first, and then imposed their
      patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani, one
      of the report's authors.

      The Iraqi legislation marks the latest victory by transnational
      corporations. To date,
      these companies have successfully managed to confirm their rights to
      seed patents over the rights of farmers everywhere to save their seeds and
      their crops in the most sustainable, affordable and environmentally
      manner possible.

      Earlier this year, Canadian farmer Percy Schmeiser lost his seven-year
      against biotech giant Monsanto. The case, which went all the way to the
      Supreme Court, revolved around Monsanto's genetically-modified canola
      seed, Round-up Ready, that had blown onto Schmeiser's property from
      neighbouring farms. Despite his best efforts, Schmeiser was unable to kill
      off the pesticide resistant plants. When he saved his seed from one year's
      crop to plant the next, it included some of Monsanto's patented seed.
      Monsanto's argued that saving the seed violated the company's requirement
      that farmers who use Round-Up Ready must buy new seed every year.

      "We did not expect this to go all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,"
      said Schmeiser. "We were fighting for the fundamental right of the farmer
      to save his seed and use it year after year."

      A noble battle, but one that is being lost on all fronts to the right of
      multi-billion dollar transnational corporations to make a profit. To return
      to the Iraqi situation, that right is literally putting the lives of
      millions of at risk.

      "This is a disastrous turn of events for Iraqi farmers, biodiversity and
      the country's food security," states a GRAIN news release. "While political
      sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has
      been made near impossible by these new regulations."

      The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates
      that in 2002, 97 percent of Iraqi farmers used saved seed from their own
      stocks from the previous year's harvest, or purchased seed from local
      markets. When the Iraqi law goes into effect, seed saving will be illegal.
      Instead, farmers will be forced to purchase proprietary "PVP-protected"
      planting material from transnational agribusiness corporations.

      According to GRAIN, the consequences of this legislation are the loss of
      farmers' freedoms and a grave threat to food sovereignty in Iraq. In this
      way, the US has declared a new war against the Iraqi farmer.

      At the risk of diminishing the wretched plight of the Iraqi people, this
      legislation moves us even closer to the frightening world imagined by
      screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky in the classic movie, "Network."

      "There is no America and no democracy," Chayefsky wrote. "There is only IBM
      and ITT and AT&T and Du Pont, Dow, Union Carbide and Exxon. Those are the
      nations of the world now."

      God help us. (Vandana Shiva and the women of India have done remarkable
      work in challanging and changing this criminal behaviour - help Vandana).


      GRAIN promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural
      biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local
      knowledge. To read the report, "Iraq's New Patent Law: A declaration of
      war against farmers," or for more information about GRAIN's work, visit
      www.grain.org <http://www.grain.org/ .

      For more information about seed saving, check out The Seed Savers' Network
      at www.seedsavers.net <http://www.seedsavers.net/ and The International
      Seed Saving Institute (www.seedsave.org <http://www.seedsave.org/ ).

      The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is located at
      www.fao.org <http://www.fao.org/

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