GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 08th February 2005

NZ Farmers Warned Over Loss of Access to Seed

New Zealand farmers urgently need to work together to protect their long-term access to seeds and the right to save seeds for planting each year.
The urgency to protect farmers' rights that have been presumed secure until now is a result of increasingly aggressive attempts by agri-businbess to control all seed supplies. Consolidation of seed supllies into a handful of companies means farmers may be denied access to seeds they want and be limited to new patented varieties that may be genetically modified or be contaminated by GM material.
Monsanto's recent acquisition of the world's largest seed supplier for fruit and vegetables means New Zealand's Fruit and Vegetable farmers are also more vulnerable.
The move to block farmers access to seed has included legal suits in the US that have impacted thousands of farmers. But the decision by US authorities to introduce a ban on seed- saving in Iraq should be a wake-up call to the New Zealand industry and government.
"New Zealand is reliant on agriculture but many sectors are also reliant on imported seed. The Iraq decision demands our farmers and the government consider the long term threat to the industry from external control over the seed we need," says Jon Carapiet from GE Free NZ in food and environment.
There are already efforts being made to protect heirloom seeds but the government must give priority to the issue and work with the agricultural sector to ensure the secure supply of conventional seeds into the future.
The ban on seed-saving in Iraq is a wakeup call for farmers. They must look ahead five years and take action now to protect basic rights that are threatned by patenting regimes and punitative licensing agreements.


Jon Carapiet 09 815 3370 0210 507 681


US Declares Iraqis Must Destroy Their Own Seeds .Edited by Iman Khaduri
As part of sweeping "economic restructuring" implemented by the Bush Administration in Iraq, Iraqi farmers will no longer be permitted to save their seeds, which include seeds the Iraqis themselves have developed over hundreds of years. Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US corporations. That is because in recent years, transnational corporations have patented and now own many seed varieties originated or developed by indigenous
peoples. In a short time, Iraq will be living under the new American credo: "Pay Monsanto, or starve ."

"The American Administrator of the Iraqi CPA (CoalitionProvisional Authority) government, Paul Bremer, updated Iraq's intellectual property law to 'meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection'. The updated law makes saving seeds for next year's harvest, practiced by 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002, and is the standard farming practice for thousands of years across human civilizations, to be now illegal.. Instead, farmers will have to obtain a yearly license for genetically modified (GM) seeds from American corporations.
These GM seeds have typically been modified from seeds developed over thousands of generations by indigenous farmers like the Iraqis, and shared freely like agricultural 'open source.'"

Iraq law Requires Seed Licenses November 13, 2004

"According to Order 81, paragraph 66 - [B], issued by L.Paul Bremer [CFR], the people in Iraq are now prohibited from saving seeds and may only plant seeds for their food from licensed, authorized U.S. distributors.

The paragraph states, "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties or any variety mentioned in items 1 and 2 of paragraph [C] of Article 14 of this chapter."

Written in massively intricate legalese, Order 81 directs the reader at Article 14, paragraph 2 [C] to paragraph [B] of Article 4, which states any variety that is different from any other known variety may be registered in any country and become a protected variety of seed - thus defaulting it into the "protected class" of seeds and prohibiting the Iraqis from reusing them the following season. Every year, the Iraqis must destroy any seed they have, and repurchase seeds from an authorized supplier, or face fines, penalties and/or jail time."


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