GE Free New Zealand in Food & Environment, 10th March 2005

New Zealand Urged to Help Iraqi Farmers

The New Zealand government is being urged to defend worldwide rights of farmers to save seeds and to offer Iraq practical help independent of US authorities.

The call comes in light of legislation being passed in Iraq to block farmers from saving seeds, and recent moves internationally aimed at authorising so-called Terminator Technology.

New Zealand supported Canada's push to restart Terminator technology at a recent UN conference, prompting a campaign to demand our government backs an international ban on the most immoral of the Terminator techniques patented by Monsanto to create sterile seeds.

But the New Zealand government must also speak out in support and offer practical help to Iraqi farmers who have been subjected to what is being described as a "cynical and wicked" imposition on occupied Iraq by US authorities.

International concern has been prompted by "Order 81" signed and brought into force by Paul
Bremer, the Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority, on 26th April 2004.

"This legislation is a forewarning to all farmers- including New Zealand's- that their basic rights are being squeezed away," says Jon Carapiet. "New Zealand must speak out in defence of farmers, and offer independent aid. We must not be complicit in the denial of farmers' rights by stealth."
The critical part of Order 81 makes a very basic change to Iraqi "intellectual property" law, for the first time recognizing the "ownership" of biologic material and paving the way for the patenting of life forms. It also opens the way for genetically modified crops to be introduced.

Where ownership of a crop is claimed, seed saving will be banned, and royalties will have to be paid by the farmer to the registered seed "owner". Farmers will be required to sign contracts relating to seed supply and even to the marketing of the harvest. Where GM crops
are involved (and possibly in other cases as well) they will also be required to sign contracts for the purchase of specific herbicides, insecticides and fertilisers.

The manner in which this Order was imposed on the people of Iraq is an outrage too. There was virtually no Iraqi input into the wording of the Order, as the country and its people were on their knees following the Iraq War.

"This is the agricultural equivalent of kicking a man when he's down, not the sense of fair play New Zealanders value and want our country to defend," says Jon Carapiet.

"The moral and ethical issue of this legislation and the threat posed by GE control-systems over seeds, cannot be ignored."

Jon Carapiet 0210 507 681

The Institute of Science in Society
Science Society Sustainability
ISIS Press Release 08/03/05

Iraqi Government Urged to Revoke "Cynical and Wicked" Patent Law

/Dr. Brian John/

*A fully referenced
version of this article is posted on ISIS members’ website. Details

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