After Iraq War, Monsanto, Cargill & Dow Chemical Took Over Iraqi Agriculture

BAGHDAD — In the aftermath of the Iraq War, Iraq’s seed and agriculture industry was destroyed by U.S. corporations, with the aid of the U.S. government.

In May 2003, after the war officially ended, U.S. diplomat Paul Bremer became the head of the occupational authority, essentially controlling Iraq’s government. He issued 100 orders that set the strategy for rebuilding efforts, including Order 81, “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety Law.”

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi, a physician and environmental activist, explained the devastating impact of this order in a 2008 speech.

“Before 2003 they had a well functioning, centrally-controlled seed industry that had developed over the years a rich seed variety for almost variation of wheat in the world today,” she said.

Wasfi said Iraqi farmers achieved this by following ancient traditions of saving, replanting and sharing seeds from previous harvests. Historians agree that agriculture as we know it, including many of these seed-saving techniques, originated in ancient times, around 5,000 B.C.E., in the region of the Middle East that includes modern-day Iraq.

But by 2005, Iraq was providing for only 4 percent of its seed needs, Wasfi said, explaining that under Order 81, “Iraqi farmers are not allowed to save seeds, they are not allowed to share seeds, no sharing, and they are not allowed to replant harvested seeds.”

She also pointed to years of U.S.-driven war and sanctions as other key factors in the collapse of the native seed industry...


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