Wednesday, February 09, 2005

US IP Order Targets Iraqi Seed Savers

This is a fascinating short article on an intellectual property order signed by former US military administrator Paul Bremer that makes it illegal for Iraqi farmers to save seeds from their harvests for the coming crop, and effectively forces them to buy annual licenses from (American) corporations for genetically modified seeds.

The seed saving practice has been part of the local farming for ages, but paragraph 66 of Bremer's Order 81 states that "Farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties." From the article:
These "protected" seeds include an increasing number of varieties that have been developed by indigenous farmers through manual selection over centuries, but have since been patented by international companies. Seeds that are distinguished from other known, registered varieties can be claimed as intellectual property by anyone, worldwide. Such seeds are by default considered to be "protected varieties", and Iraqi farmers using them are required to destroy their entire seed stock at the end of a harvest.
A far cry from the usual code-cult stories here, but certainly worth the read. (If not to wonder about some analogies with the prohibition to breed one's own devices and not being pushed in a mandated licensing scheme.)


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