Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Order 81 ~ needle in the haystack

So Hajim al-Hassani is the Iraq National Assembly's speaker. Hajim al-Hassani is also the industry minister. I wonder how he will work with Sawsan Ali Magid al-Sharifi, the minister of agriculture. And I wonder when they're going to set about reversing Paul Bremer's 100 legislative parting gifts, particularly Order 81. Noting al-Hassani and al-Sharifi's respective industrial and agricultural responsibilities.

More Order 81 background.

Under the new US Order, the saving and planting of seeds will be illegal and market will only offer plant material produced by transactional agribusiness corporations. The US Order introduces a system of private monopoly rights over seeds and will force Iraqi farmers to relay on big US corporations to buy its yearly crop seeds for planting. The term of the monopoly is 20 years for crop varieties and 25 for trees and vines. During this time the protected variety de facto becomes the property of the breeder, and nobody can plant or otherwise use this variety without compensating the breeder. ~ Ghali Hassan.

Oil? Read about the wheat deal.

Basically decades of war have taken a toll on Iraq's landscape while sanctions have taken a toll on the tradescape. As a result foreign agricultural corporations have been cashing in with overpriced wheat deals for years. Bearing in mind (how could one not) recent "de-stability". Order 81 it would seem, is an order protecting foreign agricultural interests rather then Iraq local industry.

Oh and Hah! Noting Order 64. The CPA website describes Order 64 as an order which revises Iraq's 1997 Company Law. The CPA website does not specify exactly what these revisions are. It says;

The order modernizes the legal environment for business in Iraq, making it a more attractive place to do business.

For who? Al seed mafia?

UPDATE 06/04; Jalal Talabani, patriotic Kurdish freedom ex-fighter, has been chosen for presidency. Hussain al-Shahristani, United Iraqi Alliance, says;

''We agreed on Talabani because of his qualities and patriotic history''

Talabani says;

"Iraqis who are carrying weapons out of patriotic and anti-occupation motives, those people are our brothers and it is possible to talk with them and to reach a solution"

Wonder what he thinks about the seeds.


#4/07/2005 06:55:00 am Assalam Aleikom Anonymous Anonymous

Text of Order 81

The law is basic run-of-the-mill recognition of international patent rights. Such laws are required for membership in the WTO and full participation in the global economy.

In plain language - new plant strains are patentable under international law for a period of 20 years. Commercial use of patented plant strains without paying royalties to the patent holder is prohibited. Commercial farmers in possession of patented strains must either have paid appropriate royalties, agree to pay royalties, or destroy any seeds that are in violation of international patent law.

Farmers are still free to use non-patented plant strains. Any strain over 20 years old will not be affected by patent protection.

#4/08/2005 09:23:00 pm Assalam Aleikom Blogger emigre

The trouble is cross-pollination.

Seeds don't follow rules and regulations. One farmer has heirloom seeds developed over
decades of saving seed from his crops, a neighbouring farmer buys some patented seeds. Both sow their respective seeds. The seeds grow and flower. The wind does it's thing. Pollen crosses from one farm to another... a hybrid strain results. It could be argued that the farmer whose original non-patent crop has produced patent-cross offspring must now pay for growing patented plants - even though he never intended too.

Farmers in other countries with similar laws have been sued for unknowingly growing patented strains after natural cross-pollination. Why introduce an Order like 81 when similar laws haven't proven especially effective in protecting farmers in other countries?

The plant patent info appears halfway through Order 81. Who is going to know that crucial information related to farming is now buried halfway through Order 81?

Who is going to Know? Perhaps large agricultural companies who employ lawyers versed in the patent process and have already patented their strains. But how many local
farmers who’ve been collecting and breeding their own heirloom strains are suddenly going to realize they now need to patent their seeds each year to protect their seed strains? And what happens when a farmer goes to register his seed only to find it has been contaminated by other pre-patented seed? Seed whose owner might likely sue.

Why the rush to pass an order like this without telling anyone much about it?

It all just sounds like unnecessary paperwork contrived to protect the interests of commercial offshore GM seed inventors.

Face it, stuff like this rarely makes news headlines ~ it’s too dry to sell in papers or on prime time tv. People only find out when it’s too late. These orders affect livelihoods and these orders need to be aired. Properly.

#4/08/2005 10:11:00 pm Assalam Aleikom Blogger emigre

And on semantics, this is enough to make anyone choke ~ right at the top of Order 81;

"Recognizing the desirability of adopting modern intellectual property standards".

Reads like an ill-fitting suit. Modern? What does that tell us? Nothing. A "dress-up" word. "Modern" in the context of Order 81 says nothing except to imply that current agricultural practice in Iraq is "not modern" and perhaps "backward".

Well anyway the joke's on whoever drafted Order 81, "modern" is so yesterday. Couple of dictionary definitions;

# a typeface based on an 18th century design.

# adjective: belonging to the modern era; since the Middle Ages

Order 81 was obviously a rush job.


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