International Seeds Day on April 26

by GRAIN | 20 Apr 2009

TITLE: International Seeds Day on April 26 to advocate for patent-free seeds, biodiversity, farmers' rights and to challenge Order 81 AUTHOR: Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies PUBLICATION: press release DATE: 3 April 2009 URL:

Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies | 3 April 2009


Cambridge, Massachusetts -- Organizations, activists, farmers and organic food advocates around the world have endorsed and will observe April 26 as International Seeds Day (ISD).

The purpose of the ISD is to educate the public and inform the media about:

- the importance of biodiversity and how to practice seed saving; - the dangers of genetically modified food and patent seeds; - Order 81 and how it had and will devastate the future of IRAQ's agriculture; and - how to resist the ability of giant agricultural corporations' to control seed resources.

Join us to educate about and advocate for patent-free seeds, farmers rights and mobilize to challenge the giant agricultural corporations and Order 81:

Historically, the Iraqi constitution prohibited ownership of biological resources. Farmers in Iraq have operated in a mostly free-to-little-regulated, informal seed supply system. Farm-saved seeds and the free exchange of planting materials among farmers have long been the basis of agricultural practice in Iraq. Yet all of this has become history. On April 26, 2004, Paul Bremer, the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), issued and signed Order 81, which prohibits farmers from reusing seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law. When ownership of a crop is claimed, seed saving will be banned and farmers will have to be pay royalties to the registered, so-called seed owner. A "Greedy, unjust law is meant to be disobeyed":

The Order arises from USAID program in Iraq, which confirms that foreign aid programs are mainly "commercial opportunity" programs designed to benefit companies in the USA and Europe. It fits perfectly into the US vision for the future of Iraqi agriculture following a system dependent on large corporations selling chemical inputs and seeds. The purpose of Order 81 is to facilitate the establishment of a new seed market in Iraq, one in which Iraqi farmers are forced to make their annual purchase of seeds, including those that are genetically modified, from transnational corporations.

The law awarded US Corporations complete control over farmers' seed for 20 years. Iraqi farmers had to sign an agreement to pay a "technology fee" plus an annual license fee. Plant Variety Protection (PVP) made seed reusing and saving illegal as well as "similar" seed plantings punishable by severe fines and imprisonment. Agribusiness wants the same rights everywhere, including in the USA. This will jeopardize the future of organic and independent farming.

Many developing countries in Africa and Asia particularly in Afghanistan, India and Iraq have been suffering from these unjust laws and the monopoly by the agricultural giants.

Therefore organizations, activists, organic food advocates, farm owners and farmers around the world are joining hand to advocate for patent-free seeds and biodiversity and to educate about the criminal practices by agricultural corporations and how their unjust laws have and will affect the future of agriculture.

More information:
- Full text of Order 81:
- People's rights to water and food:
- GM Science Exposed:
- The agenda in Afghanistan & Iraq:
- International Seeds Day & Order 81: er-81the-plunderfarming/353518/
- The US Green Party endorses International Seeds Day on April 26, asks for repeal of Order 81 which makes Iraqi farmers dependent on US firms: -party-endorses-international-seeds-day-on-april-26-repeal-o f-order-81-making-iraqi-farmers-dependent-on-us-firms/
- Merry Fitzgerald's speech at Third Iraqi Turkmen Media Council Conference in Istanbul on 10-12 April 2009. kmen-media-council-conference-in-istanbul/

- Dr. Brian John, +44 123 982-0470, brianjohn4(at) (UK)
- Dr. Vandana Shiva, +91 2 653-5422, vandana(at) (India)
- Wafaa' Al-Natheema, +1 (617) 864-6327, INEAS(at) (USA)
- Please also email Al-Natheema at INEAS_1994(at)

Author: GRAIN
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