One of the measures introduced by the Coalition Provisional Authority, before the departure of L. Paul Bremer III, was an overhaul of the Iraqi patent
laws. Included within these new patent laws is a section dealing with "Plant Variety Protection" (PVP), essentially introducing a copyright system
that has already been introduced within Western nations. What will be the implications for the future of Iraqi farmers who for generations have
freely distributed seeds between themselves?
For generations, small farmers in Iraq operated in an essentially unregulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seed and the free innovation
with and exchange of planting materials among farming communities has long been the basis of agricultural practice. This has been made illegal under
the new law. The seeds farmers are now allowed to plant - "protected" crop varieties brought into Iraq by transnational corporations in the name of
agricultural reconstruction - will be the property of the corporations. While historically the Iraqi constitution prohibited private ownership of
biological resources, the new US-imposed patent law introduces a system of monopoly rights over seeds. Inserted into Iraq's previous patent law is a
whole new chapter on Plant Variety Protection (PVP) that provides for the "protection of new varieties of plants." PVP is an intellectual property
right (IPR) or a kind of patent for plant varieties which gives an exclusive monopoly right on planting material to a plant breeder who claims to have
discovered or developed a new variety. So the "protection" in PVP has nothing to do with conservation, but refers to safeguarding of the commercial
interests of private breeders (usually large corporations) claiming to have created the new plants.
To qualify for PVP, plant varieties must comply with the standards of the UPOV  Convention, which requires them be new, distinct, uniform and
stable. Farmers' seeds cannot meet these criteria, making PVP-protected seeds the exclusive domain of corporations. The rights granted to plant
breeders in this scheme include the exclusive right to produce, reproduce, sell, export, import and store the protected varieties. These rights extend
to harvested material, including whole plants and parts of plants obtained from the use of a protected variety. This kind of PVP system is often the
first step towards allowing the full-fledged patenting of life forms. Indeed, in this case the rest of the law does not rule out the patenting of
plants or animals.
Please visit the link provided for the complete story.
So, on the one hand we are told that we are bringing freedom and democracy to the nation of Iraq, while on the other hand, and not so well
publicised, we are introducing measures that will shackle the Iraqi people and enrich large corporate interests.
I feel it was bad enough totally destroying the country's water, electricity and communications infrastructure, then to charge the Iraqis, through
oil revenue, to pay to have it rebuilt. Now, to hit their food production as well with new laws that will benefit nobody but the large
agro-industrial corporations is, perhaps, going just a bit too far.
The process of bringing western freedom principles to Iraq is looking more and more like a corporate feeding frenzy every day.
Mod Edit: ALL-CAP Title
[edit on 29-1-2005 by kinglizard]