Andrew Bosworth, Ph.D.
October 16, 2008
One would think that Iraqi farmers, now prospering under “freedom” and “democracy,” would be able to plant the seeds of their choosing, but that choice, under little-known Order 81, would be illegal.
But first, it is important to set the context. Most people have never heard of the infamous “100 Orders,” but they help explain why the majority of Iraqis remain opposed to foreign occupation. The 100 Orders allow multinational corporations to basically privatize an entire nation, and this degree of foreign and private control has not been witnessed since the days of the British East India Company and its extraterritoriality treaties.
A few examples of the 100 Orders are illuminating:
* Order 39 allows for the tax-free remittance of all corporate profits.
- Order 17 grants foreign contractors, including private security firms, immunity from Iraq’s laws.
- Orders 57 and 77 ensure the implementation of the orders by placing U.S.-appointed auditors and inspector general in every government ministry, with five-year terms and with sweeping authority over contracts, programs, employees and regulations. (1)
Back to one of the most blatant orders of all: Order 81. Under this mandate, Iraq’s commercial farmers must now buy “registered seeds.” These are normally imported by Monsanto, Cargill and the World Wide Wheat Company. Unfortunately, these registered seeds are “terminator” seeds, meaning “sterile.” Imagine if all human men were infertile, and in order to reproduce women needed to buy sperm cells at a sperm bank. In agricultural terms, terminator seeds represent the same kind of sterility.
Terminator seeds have no agricultural value other than creating corporate monopolies. The Sierra Club, more of a mainstream “conservation” organization than a radical “environmentalist” one, makes the exact same case:
“This technology would protect the intellectual property interests of the seed company by making the seeds from a genetically engineered crop plant sterile, unable to germinate. Terminator would make it impossible for farmers to save seed from a crop for planting the next year, and would force them to buy seed from the supplier. In the third world, this inability to save seed could be a major, perhaps fatal, burden on poor farmers.” (2)
What makes this Order 81 even more outrageous is that Iraqi farmers have been saving wheat and barley seeds since at least 4000 BC, when irrigated agriculture first emerged, and probably even to about 8000 BC, when wheat was first domesticated. Mesopotamia’s farmers have now been trumped by white-smocked, corporate bio-engineers from Florida who strive to replace hundreds of natural varieties with a handful of genetically scrambled hybrids.
Where does such hubris come from? It comes from the entire mission surrounding the invasion of Iraq, which, upon closer inspection, had been planned years in advance by a faction of “neo-cons” who adopted Leon Trotsky’s glorification of the state, his theory “permanent revolution,” and his goal of exporting revolution worldwide. The neo-con revolution aims to alter the economic, political and cultural foundations of nations on the other side of the planet (rejecting old-fashioned notions of self-determination, popular sovereignty and even the nation-state system). This mission includes the transformation of agriculture and the establishment of “food control” over local populations.
Order 81 fits into this revolutionary program, and it is quite diabolical upon closer inspection. First, it forces Iraq’s commercial farmers to use registered terminator seeds (the “protected variety”). Then it defines natural seeds as illegal (the “infringing variety”), in a classic Orwellian turn of language.
This is so incredible that it must be re-stated: the exotic genetically scrambled seeds are the “protected variety” and the indigenous seeds are the “infringing variety.”
As Jeffrey Smith explains, author of Order 81: Re-Engineering Iraqi Agriculture:
“To qualify for PVP [Plant Variety Protection], seeds have to meet the following criteria: they must be ‘new, distinct, uniform and stable’… it is impossible for the seeds developed by the people of Iraq to meet these criteria. Their seeds are not ‘new’ as they are the product of millennia of development. Nor are they ‘distinct’. The free exchange of seeds practiced for centuries ensures that characteristics are spread and shared across local varieties. And they are the opposite of ‘uniform’ and ’stable’ by the very nature of their biodiversity.” (3)
Order 81 comes with the Orwellian title of “Plant Variety Protection.” Any self-respecting scientist knows, however, that imposing biological standardization accomplishes the exact opposite: It reduces biodiversity and threatens species. So Order 81 comes with an Orwellian title and consists of Orwellian provisions.
Jeffrey Smith peels away the layers of mischief behind Order 81, finding it nonsensical that six varieties of wheat have been developed for Iraq:
“Three will be used for farmers to grow wheat that is made into pasta; three seed strains will be for ‘breadmaking.’
Pasta? According to the 2001 World Food Programme report on Iraq, ‘Dietary habits and preferences included consumption of large quantities and varieties of meat, as well as chicken, pulses, grains, vegetables, fruits and dairy products.’ No mention of lasagna. Likewise, a quick check of the Middle Eastern cookbook on my kitchen shelves, while not exclusively Iraqi, reveals a grand total of no pasta dishes listed within it.
There can be only two reasons why 50 per cent of the grains being developed are for pasta. One, the US intends to have so many American soldiers and businessmen in Iraq that it is orienting the country’s agriculture around feeding not ‘Starving Iraqis’ but ‘Overfed Americans’. Or, and more likely, because the food was never meant to be eaten inside Iraq at all…” (4)
Just in case Iraqi farmer can’t read, Order 81 enforces the new monopoly on seeds with the jackboot. Order 81 makes this clear in its own text, buried at the bottom of the document, as is most screw-you fine print:
“The court may order the confiscation of the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools substantially used in the infringement of the protected variety. The court may also decide to destroy the infringing variety as well as the materials and tools or to dispose of them in any noncommercial purpose.” (5)
Order 81 is about power and profit, but it disguises itself as humanitarian legislation.
Topping it all off, the entire document puts on rather magisterial airs. It was signed by L. Paul Bremer himself, with his own hand, and presumably with his own pen:
“Pursuant to my authority as Administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority…”
Like the Roman Proconsuls, Paul Bremer also spent a year in the provinces, governing the so-called barbarians…
And, in case you think this is just plain nutty, here is the actual text of the “100 Orders.” If you ask me, there is something TERRIBLY wrong with this.