Sources: Grain, October 2004, Title: “Iraq’s New Patent Law: A Declaration of War against Farmers,” Authors: Focus on the Global South and GRAIN; TomPaine.com, October 26, 2004, Title: “Adventure Capitalism,” Author: Greg Palast; The Ecologist, February 4, 2005, Title: “U.S. Seeking to Totally Re-engineer Iraqi Traditional Farming System into a U.S.-style Corporate Agribusiness,” Author: Jeremy Smith
Faculty Evaluator: John Wingard, Ph. D.
Student Researcher: Cary Barker
In his article “Adventure Capitalism,” Greg Palast exposes the contents of a secret plan for “imposing a new regime of low taxes on big business, and quick sales of Iraq’s banks and bridges-in fact, ‘ALL state enterprises’-to foreign operators.” This economy makeover plan, he claims, “goes boldly where no invasion plan has gone before.”
This highly detailed program, which began years before the tanks rolled, outlines the small print of doing business under occupation. One of the goals is to impose intellectual property laws favorable to multinationals. Palast calls this “history’s first military assault plan appended to a program for toughening the target nation’s copyright laws.”
It also turns out that those of us who may have thought it was all about the oil were mostly right. “The plan makes it clear that-even if we didn’t go in for the oil-we certainly won’t leave without it.”
In an interview with Palast, Grover Norquist, the “ capo di capi of the lobbyist army of the right,” makes the plans even more clear when he responds, “The right to trade, property rights, these things are not to be determined by some democratic election.” No, these things were to be determined by the Coalition Provisional Authority, the interim government lead by the U.S.
Before he left his position, CPA administrator Paul Bremer, “the leader of the Coalition Provisional Authority issued exactly 100 orders that remade Iraq in the image of the Economy Plan.” These orders effectively changed Iraqi law.
A good example of this business invasion involves agriculture. The details of this part of the “market make-over” are laid out in the Grain website article called “Iraq’s new Patent Law: a declaration of war against farmers.”
“Order 81” of the 100 is entitled “Patent, Industrial Design, Undisclosed Information, Integrated Circuits and Plant Variety.” According to Grain staff writers, this order “made it illegal for Iraqi farmers to re-use seeds harvested from new varieties registered under the law.” Plant Variety Protection (PVP)is the tool used for defining which seeds are re-useable and which are not. PVP “is an intellectual property right 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.”
Dovetailing with this order is a plan to “re-educate farmers” in order to increase their production. As part of a $107 million “project” facilitated by Texas A&M, farmers will be given equipment and new high-yielding PVP protected seeds. Jeremy Smith from the Ecologist points out that, “After one year, farmers will see soaring production levels. Many will be only too willing to abandon their old ways in favor of the new technologies. Out will go traditional methods. In will come imported American seeds.” Then, based on the new patent laws, “any ‘client’ (or ‘farmer’ as they were once known) wishing to grow one of their seeds, ‘pays a licensing fee for each variety’.”
Smith explains that “Under the guise of helping Iraq back on its feet, the U.S. setting out to re-engineer the country’s traditional farming system into a U.S.-style corporate agribusiness.” In that traditional system, “97 percent of Iraqi farmers used their own saved seed or bought seed from local markets.” He continues, “Unfortunately, this vital heritage and knowledge base is now believed lost, the victim of the current campaign and the many years of conflict that preceded it.”
Of course, this project will also introduce “new chemicals-pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, all sold to the Iraqis by corporations such as Monsanto, Cargill and Dow.”
As Grain staff writers point out, “over the past decade, many countries of the South have been compelled to adopt seed patent laws through bilateral treaties” with the U.S. The Iraqi situation, however, is different in that “the adoption of the patent law was not part of negotiations between sovereign countries. Nor did a sovereign law-making body enact it as reflecting the will of the Iraqi people.” Essentially, the U.S. has reneged on its promise of freedom for the Iraqi people. The actions of the U.S. clearly show that the will of the Iraqi people is not relevant. Paul Bremer’s 100 orders make sure it will stay that way. Grain argues “Iraq’s freedom and sovereignty will remain questionable for as long as Iraqis do not have control over what they sow, grow, reap and eat.” Palast says poignantly, “The free market paradise in Iraq is not free.”
Update by Greg Palast: In February 2003, White House spokesman Ari Fleisher announced the preparations for “Operation Iraqi Liberation”-O.I.L.
I can’t make these things up.
I’m not one of the those people who believes George Bush led us into Iraq for the oil but, from the documents I’ve obtained, it’s clear that we sure as hell aren’t leaving without it.
At BBC Television Newsnight, which has granted me journalistic asylum from the commercially-crazed madhouse of the American news market, we ran Fleisher’s announcement of operation O.I.L. (later corrected to Operation Iraqi Freedom-OIF!). More importantly, we ran a series of stories-which I also developed for Harper’s Magazine in the USA-on the pre-invasion plans to slice up and sell off Iraq’s assets, “especially the oil,” in the terms of one State Department secret document.
After we got our hands on the confidential document to “Move Iraq’s Economy Forward”-i.e. sell off its oil-we at BBC put General Jay Garner on the air. Garner, whom the president appointed as viceroy over the newly-conquered Iraq, confirmed the plan to sell off Iraq’s oil-and his refusal to carry out the deed. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fired him and smeared him for his dissent. This was big, big news in Europe where I reported it-but in the U.S. the story was buried.
We later discovered that the plan to sell off Iraq’s oil was replaced by another confidential plan. This one, 323 pages long and literally written by oil industry consultants, was obtained by BBC and Harper’s after a protracted legal war with the State Department. We discovered, interestingly, that this industry plan to create a state oil company favorable to OPEC was first conceived in February 2001. In other words, invasion was in the works, including stratagems for controlling Iraq’s oil, within week’s of George Bush’s first inauguration and well before the September 11 attack.
The discovery of this plan for Iraq’s oil, received exactly zero coverage by the U.S. “mainstream” press. Only Harper’s Magazine gave it full play along with those wonderful internet sites (Buzzflash, Guerrilla News, WorkingForChange, CommonDreams, Alternet and more ) that cussedly insist on printing news from abroad not approved by the Powers That Be.
Bless them. They, Project Censored, and Harper’s, have my deepest thanks for bringing my words back home.
Want to see the television you’re not supposed to see? The British Broadcasting Corporation has graciously kept my reports available as Internet video archives. Go to http://www.GregPalast.com and click on the “Watch BBC” buttons for the stories effectively censored by the U.S. news lords and the Bush Administration’s chorus of journalist castrati.
Finally, I must give special thanks to our team’s special investigator on Iraq, Leni von Eckardt, to brilliant BBC producer Meirion Jones, to the stalwart editors of Harper’s Magazine who withstood legal threats to publish the story, and to TomPaine.com, which has always provided a refuge for the best investigative reporting American newspapers won’t print.