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Biotech Government Patents Politics

Iraq law Requires Seed Licenses 284

Doc Ruby writes "The American Administrator of the Iraqi CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) government, Paul Bremer, updated Iraq's intellectual property law to 'meet current internationally-recognized standards of protection.' The updated law makes saving seeds for next year's harvest, practiced by 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002, the standard farming practice for thousands of years across human civilizations, newly illegal. Instead, farmers will have to obtain a yearly license for genetically modified seeds from American corporations. These GM seeds have typically been modified from IP developed over thousands of generations by indigenous farmers like the Iraqis, shared freely like agricultural 'open source.' Other IP provisions for technology in the law further integrate Iraq into the American IP economy."
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Iraq law Requires Seed Licenses

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  • Ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Momomoto ( 118483 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:06PM (#10808531) Homepage
    That's ridiculous. While I do fully support the use of transgenic crops, I find it silly to force farmers into buying something they may not want.

    Giving them the choice to buy GM seed is fine; forcing them to buy GM seed and abide by North American terms and conditions is debilitating.

    • This is not esoterica like software licences, this is basic ingredients for living, and these [insert strong epithet of choice here, my personal best candidate starts with a w] want to control it all. Makes the RIAA and fellow idiots look politely selfless by contrast.
    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @06:14PM (#10809319)
      Giving them the choice to buy GM seed is fine; forcing them to buy GM seed and abide by North American terms and conditions is debilitating.

      I believe the summary was overstated. They are not forced to buy GM seeds; they are just not allowed to save GM seeds. They can still use other seeds however they desire.

      The ethics of disallowing GM's seeds from being used in this way are debatable, but the other thing...yeah, that'd be awful. Fortunately, that isn't what's happening.

      • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 14, 2004 @04:38AM (#10811963)
        Having just read the chapter of "The Law" that was added for the "protection of new varieties of plants" I think I can safely say that Mr. Bremer is paving a new path for our world domination.

        By including the R&D of third world countries into our patents (when those countries have no IP relationship with us at all) THEN invading their country and supplanting such arduous unwanted agreements and regulations on the conquered third world country, we guanrantee their eternal indentured-servant status.

        They have modified their crops for hundreds of years, and our patents have incorporated their research. Why would a farmer there care if someone in the US used their discoveries for a patent that only affects the US? Now, the tables are turning, and they suddenly do have to care?

        Seems like a nice way to make every Iraqi farmer go quickly bankrupt, selling all their holdings to US corporations that are extorting huge sums of money for seeds the Iraqi farmers invented in the first place.

        I don't see people starting, but I do see the farm ownership changing from ~100% Iraqi owned to 99% US owned within five years.
    • no choice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by zogger ( 617870 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @08:29PM (#10810015) Homepage Journal
      It will be here soon, too. Pollen is airborne. Eventually you won't be able to save your own seed, and they have proven they can control the law and court system to the extent that if the pollen infects your crops, you "stole" their "patented" IP. It's why those of us who have been against this have been speaking up about it. Their plant "IP" law is viral, and you can't get away from it once it's released into the wild to grow. Google starlink corn, canola, superweed for starters.

      You cannot both "support it" and think you or anyone else can have any practical alternative. Joe farmer down the street has IP protected corn, you don't, next year the seed you save from your own crop that had nothing to do with the patented stuff will have a certain percentage of "their" genetic material in it. You lose. Every crop you try to grow will become more infected. The wind and the law won't allow it. It's only a matter of time now before global food monopolies. And in iraq you can see they aren't even waiting for it to spread semi naturally, they are just mandating it, showing exactly where they have always been coming from, exactly like we have warned against and been told it was "tinfoil hat" or "luddism". Now here, you see the proof, what they intend for not only iraq, but the planet, as much as they can.
      • Pollen didn't learn how to fly just because GMOs were made. This problem is something that has been happening for hundreds of thousands of years. The rates of outcrossing and introgression are ridiculously low, and any so-called "infected" crop can easily be removed. It's only stealing if you keep it.
        • Re:No different (Score:5, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @11:04PM (#10810762)
          and any so-called "infected" crop can easily be removed

          Have you ever grown a plant? Or bred a plant? Do you have any idea how stupid this sounds? You can't tell by the seeds which ones are infected. That means you plant all your seeds, and now you have to monitor your crops to see if they're infected. Depending on the degree of the rogue polinaztion, you could find yourself killing sizeable portions of the plants you worked hard to get started.

          And what if the infection is not easily visible, but could be detected via genetic testing? Guess what? You're fucked. Not all traits of a parent show up in the offspring.

          I can't believe people take the attitude you're expressing here. Do you realize Mansanto has already developed and patented a technology that has been called "terminator"? The technology can be used across a wide species to introduce the characteristic of plants producing sterile seeds. They will bring that tech to market, once the idea of patenting plants takes root. I can't wait until that trait escapes into the wild.

          I'm not anti-GMO's at all. But mansanto is one company that consistantly goes too far. And this "ip" law, what's next? Patenting air? This is absurdity and I'm shocked that people don't see the slippery slope this is. Protecting patents for inventions is one thing, changing the rules of nature through law, depriving farmers of an age old right, fuck that. Let mansanto make money somewhere else, don't legislate monopolies into existance. This is insane.
        • yes it is different (Score:5, Informative)

          by zogger ( 617870 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @12:48AM (#10811253) Homepage Journal
          -- the rates are not necessarily low, it's a huge variable, it can be from a lot, to very little, but the bottom line is, if it's in your crop they claim it's *theirs* no matter how it got there.

          -- plants haven't been patented for hundreds of thousands of years

          -- "easily removed" is simply .. well.. laughable. Junk science. It's ludicrous. If what you claim is true,please, go up to canuckistan and make you an easy billion or more "easily removing" canola superweed for folks, you should be able to clean up with your superior skills and advanced agronomy techniques.

          -- the cost of even testing is huge, and guess who pays it

          -- to use the word "stealing" referring to someone who's crop got infected is blaming the victim, it's like if someone chucked a baseball through your window, you had to pay for the window, and they guy who threw it calls you a thief for stealing his baseball and not giving it back, and the way this plant IP law works it's exactly like that. It is pure nuts, unfair, stupid, misguided, harmful, and does not promote the useful arts and sciences, it promotes the establishment of a small handful of international corporations owning the planets food supply.

          This action by the US government and it's appointed stooge puppets in iraq is heinous and proves what utter corrupt bastards they are, along with the companies pushing this scheme.

          Once again we have proven we have the best government big corporate money can buy. You can approve of their actions, I disapprove, so we'll leave it at that.
          • by 808140 ( 808140 ) on Sunday November 14, 2004 @11:06PM (#10817257)
            Good post, but unfortunately, your baseball analogy, while good, doesn't reflect just how fucked up this situation is. Because a baseball is real property; therefore, if I throw it through your window, it has changed hands, and by giving you the baseball I have deprived myself of it. While calling this transfer "stealing" is still ludicrous, at least I can claim lost property.

            But Intellectual Property, which is not actually property, is worse, because in transfering the seeds to you I have not been deprived of the genes in question. So a better analogy would be me hacking into your computer system, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of damage to your files in the process, and installing a copy of MS office licensed to me -- and then reporting the infraction to MS, who sues the pants off of you for having an unlicensed copy. But but wait, it gets worse! I install said copy in such a way that the only way you can remove that copy is by deleting most of the rest of your files in the process.

            Obviously, analogies that accurately underscore the injustice of this are hard to come by, because there really hasn't been anything so completely fucked up in a long time.

            Otherwise, great post.
          • it's like if someone chucked a baseball through your window, you had to pay for the window, and they guy who threw it calls you a thief for stealing his baseball and not giving it back

            Your analogy is close, but not quite there. It is more like someone throwing a baseball through your window, breaking it and impacting several surfaces inside your house. Then demanding that you remove and destroy all portions of your house that were illegally branded with the Major League Baseball logo.

  • by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:09PM (#10808550) Homepage Journal
    I hope the Iraqi's enjoy this new "Freedom". I wonder why the US isn't using more non-GMO seeds 3which don't have the IP restrictions?

    How ironic, The root of most civilizations comes from the so-called "Cradle of Civilization" which is a region of Iraq located between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

    How far do you think we would have progressed if the creators of these technologies demanded we use Their technologies and pay a license fee to use those technologies?
    • by tsm_sf ( 545316 ) * on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:52PM (#10809198) Journal
      I hope the Iraqi's enjoy this new "Freedom".

      Is this the same Paul Bremer that handed over sovereignty a little while back? Is he finally catching up on some old paperwork, or WTF? Either Bremer's just pissing away resources on projects that he knows the Iraqis will shortly overturn(sovereignty), or he really believes that we'll be able to keep the boot on Iraq's neck for the forseeable future(not sovereignty).
    • I hope the Iraqi's enjoy this new "Freedom". I wonder why the US isn't using more non-GMO seeds 3which don't have the IP restrictions?

      For the same reason they want to install a phone system which is based on US-created technology despite the fact it would leave Iraqis with an incompatible phone system.

      The same reason they plan on billing the Iraqis for the cost of the war out of oil they plan on selling after they've stabilized things.

      The same reason that Haliburton gets billions of dollars in re-buildi

  • Does anyone seriously know what the patent system was originally created for? Cause it seems to be going too far in some situations.
    • by 3StrangeAllies ( 691081 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:04PM (#10808871) Homepage
      Originally, the purpose of patents is to secure a right for the inventor to exvclude people from stepping onto his findings and discoveries. It is a way to allow the inventor to get his money back on the time he spent searching.
      Without getting into details of the patent theory, the 4 most celebrated reasons why patents exist are (according to late Judge Giles Rich) :
      • Incentive to inovate - back in the 1790s, there wasn't any big pharmaceutical laboratory or Del Monte, so to allow inventors to spend their time inventing and not wasting their talents down the factory, patents were a nice way to insure some subsides...
      • Incentive to disclose - the bargain between the patentee and the PTO is protection v. disclosure. Hence, the new discovery is readily available for the rest of mankind, and promote the progress of arts and sciences
      • Incentive to comercialize - the patent gives a right to exclude people from using the patented invention, making the inventor the manager of his rights (either licensing to other company or enjoying is own monopoly of distribution)
      • Incentive to design around -- Because once you know what is patented, it can give you new ideas. Unfortunatly, it has been struck down somewhat by the so called doctrine of equivalent
      More info : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patents [wikipedia.org] ;
      http://www.1000ventures.com/business_guide/ipr/pat ent_main_bywipo.html [1000ventures.com] [1000ventures.com].

      However, the US have really blown a fuse here... It is enslaving a foreign country to the almighty US. For the oil, well, I could understand the general purpose, even though I do NOT agree with it. But this is just mean and wicked...

      Oh well, 51% cannot be wrong. Or can they ? ;)

      Just my 2 Eurocents...
      • The genetic children of those seeds would belong to the person who patented the genetic material or something, right?
        • Well as far as Biotechs are concerned, it is a delicate subject. When someone creates a new chemical or element (e.g. the slashdotium), there is no question about the invention factor.

          But when a laboratory just decypher the gene pool of something that existed, and slightly change it to make it patentable, it's a harder question. Ex. : when RiceTech patented Basmati rice [biotech-info.net]. [biotech-info.net]

          This patent finally got revised but the problem is still there. As a lawyer, I just can't help but wondering how yo
  • Oh, bullshit.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by general_re ( 8883 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:12PM (#10808566) Homepage
    Instead, farmers will have to obtain a yearly license for genetically modified seeds from American corporations.

    Or they could, you know, NOT USE THOSE SEEDS, and instead continue using the strains they've been using for the last few thousand years or so. But then we wouldn't have our little whole-cloth pretext for a little political bashing, would we?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:20PM (#10808603)
      That's not how living systems work, particularly not plants which use freaking wind-blown "sperm" in the form of pollen. GMO genes have been showing up in should-be-non-GMO crops for years now because of this. And the real problem is that in the US, if your crop is contaminated with such genes (even through no fault of your own), YOU are held liable for patent infringement.

      Patents convert free markets into command economies and are therefore fascism, pure and simple.

      • Re:Oh, bullshit.... (Score:2, Informative)

        by general_re ( 8883 )
        That's not how living systems work, particularly not plants which use freaking wind-blown "sperm" in the form of pollen.

        Which doesn't include crops in Iraq, BTW, which kind of blows this whole comment away. The predominant crops in Iraq are barley and wheat, both of which are self-pollinators that do not rely on the wind to propagate. But you still got the obligatory fascism jab in, so it wasn't a total loss, I guess...

        • Re:Oh, bullshit.... (Score:3, Informative)

          by Grym ( 725290 )

          The predominant crops in Iraq are barley and wheat, both of which are self-pollinators that do not rely on the wind to propagate.

          You're right. Contamination, while possible, isn't likely with the crops being grown in Iraq.

          However, one of the most difficult aspects to explain to people is that it doesn't have to be likely for GMO contamination to occur for mass genetic contamination to soon follow.

          Here's why: GM crops are, by definition, better at surviving. While we normally think of animals when

    • IP pollution (Score:5, Interesting)

      by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:29PM (#10808650) Homepage Journal
      Or they could, you know, NOT USE THOSE SEEDS

      The problem is that snce a small part of their crop is contaminated by GM seeds, there's no practical way of getting rid of them. They don't have the option to choose not to use them if they've used them in the past (when the IP laws were different), or if any of their regular seeds ever got mixed up with GM seeds by mistake.

      -jim

      • The problem is that snce a small part of their crop is contaminated by GM seeds...

        I didn't see that anywhere in either of the articles. Did you?

      • Re:IP pollution (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jahf ( 21968 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:09PM (#10808902) Journal
        It is this problem that will eventually cause the downfall of the GM licensing rules as they exist right now (note: I'm not saying it will kill GM as a method or product).

        Take for instance recent studies that show that grain that was grown in the U.S. and exported to Mexico for -food- and not in the form of meant-for-planting-seeds has mixed in with the Mexican corn crops.

        The Mexicans did not plant the GM seeds, they don't -want- GM seeds, but now they have them. By some interpretations of the current rules it means that the Mexican farmers (if they were in the states) would be unable to replant their existing crops nor sell the seeds elsewhere because they contain protected IP.

        Ridiculous. Talk about viral licensing ;)

        The end result is that there is a law on it's way from Mexico stating that any corn imported from the U.S. has to be labelled GM (or GM free, which is rapidly becoming impossible) -and- milled before entry into Mexico. Even then Murphy states that some kernels will make it through the process whole and/or migrate naturally and the GM genes will continue to migrate.

        Yep ... this exactly what anti-GM folks have been saying for years ... once a new gene gets into the wild and it provides benefits, it will naturally propogate. It is called Evolution (except in Kansas and Georgia ... and I get to make that joke since I grew up in one and lived in the other for awhile) and we are most definitely tampering with it.

    • Except that, according to the article anyway, "seed saving" is now illegal.
      • Except that, according to the article anyway, "seed saving" is now illegal.

        And if you go to the linked IP law, you'll see that it says no such thing - propagation of protected varieties is to be illegal, not seed-saving in general. This whole brouhaha is built upon that single essential falsehood in the article and its summary here.

        • Oh I agree that articles are hideously biased. But it's still worth thinking about. Most of the agriculture in Iraq has been destroyed. During reconstruction the only seeds being offered for sale are GM seeds. Even if farmers somehow manage to find some "legacy seed" how are they going to keep it uncontaminated? There was a situation in Canada (and others I'm sure, that was just what I could find quickly) where a farmer's crops were contaminated by GM seed through no fault of his own and then he was he
          • How do the Iraqi farmers who don't choose to buy GM seed keep their crops GM free?

            As I said above, the staple crops there are not wind-borne pollinators, unlike corn and so forth, which is where that Canadian case came from - cross-pollination of corn crops. So it's probably going to turn out that it's easier to avoid there than it may be elsewhere.

            That being said, if it comes to pass that Iraqi farmers have no practical choice except to use GM seeds, then we might have something to talk about. But as

            • Oh, he's not going to be able to show you that. But he doesn't have to, either. When one effectively has control of a country, one can ... umm ... 'persuade' local seed shops (by bribery or threat, if needs be) to sell one's seeds. You don't even have to start on a country-wide scale from the beginning. Arm-twisting small local producers is a habit for some corporations - and is usually quite well swept under the rug. They were given a finger, you think they'll stop if they can take the whole hand, and more
              • When one effectively has control of a country, one can ... umm ... 'persuade' local seed shops (by bribery or threat, if needs be) to sell one's seeds. You don't even have to start on a country-wide scale from the beginning. Arm-twisting small local producers is a habit for some corporations - and is usually quite well swept under the rug.

                There's a big difference between asking for some evidence, and simply not giving a fuck. If - IF - such things should turn out to be the case, I will loudly and forcefu

                • But I refuse to be swept up in this idiotic herd mentality, where all some fool has to do is say the right buzzwords - IP, GM, Monsanto - and we all get out the hounds and the torches and look for someone to hang.

                  Do you frequent these boards? The herd mentality is stronger than it's ever been. The absolute thoughtlessness here can be breathtaking.

                  They talk the way they've been conditioned to talk. They feel what they're supposed to feel. They're outraged precisely on que.

                  My advice: Give up being ups
    • Or they could, you know, NOT USE THOSE SEEDS, and instead continue using the strains they've been using for the last few thousand years or so. But then we wouldn't have our little whole-cloth pretext for a little political bashing, would we?

      If you forgot, there was a war in Iraq recently. Your little Free Market example doesn't apply when
      the economy has collapsed, many of the seed stocks are depleted and US was unable to protect the irrigation systems.

      If they choose not to use the seeds, they may very w
      • If they choose not to use the seeds, they may very well be unable to plan enough crops to support their livelyhood.

        Or, since you didn't bother to find a source to support such speculation, it may very well be that you've just invented this scenario.

        • Wrong. Your statement obviously doesn't point blame at rich, obese stockholders who devise schemes in dark rooms which end up making them a lot of money at the expense of poor, innocent civilians.

          I'd say "you're new here, aren't you?" but not only do I find that to be a rather condescending and arrogant statement, but your UID suggests that a more appropriate one would work better:

          How are you not sick of it yet?

      • Or they could, you know, NOT USE THOSE SEEDS, and instead continue using the strains they've been using for the last few thousand years or so.

        There's one practical problem here: How is your typical Iraqi (or American or Canadian or Mexican, for that matter) farmer going to set up a proper testing lab to determine whether their seeds are contaminated with patented DNA? This is not just astronomically expensive; it's far beyond the technical capability of most small farmers everywhere. And much of the te
    • by adb ( 31105 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:46PM (#10808760)
      when your choice is to use these seeds or starve?

      Call me crazy, but I think not.
      • Is that, in fact, the situation? Nobody here seems to be able to show that it is...
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:13PM (#10808576)


    Maybe you haven't seen this [informatio...house.info] story/editorial from Harper's Magazine.

  • Confusing. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Atzanteol ( 99067 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:14PM (#10808583) Homepage
    The "write up" is confusing. Are the Iraqis being forced to use the GM seeds? Can't just just continue using what they've been using?
    • From the FA:

      Instead, they will be forced to buy seeds from US corporations -- including seeds the Iraqis themselves developed over hundreds of years.

      If you read further, you'll see that they can use non GM seeds as they wish. GM seeds are indeed the intellectual property of someone else, and they are bound by the license under which they acquired it. I don't see a reason to not bind them to this.

      With that said, I'm sure that it is hard to not use GM seeds or even to find non-GM seeds.

      In the future, in

      • n the future, instead of quizzing commenters I couldn't figure out which link was the "article." Many slashdot posters seem to think the value of a post is in making everything a bloody link. I got a PDF for the first link, but that didn't seem to have much.
  • Typical bias (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wowbagger ( 69688 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:18PM (#10808597) Homepage Journal
    The updated law makes saving seeds for next year's harvest, practiced by 97% of Iraqi farmers in 2002, the standard farming practice for thousands of years across human civilizations, newly illegal.


    Only if the farmers are using GM seeds. If they use normal seeds, then there is no problem with holding back seed for next year.

    Typical bias.

    Be it software or grain, the rules are the same - if you don't like the license, don't use the product - use a competing product with a license you can accept.
    • Re:Typical bias (Score:5, Insightful)

      by EnronHaliburton2004 ( 815366 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:33PM (#10808671) Homepage Journal
      Be it software or grain, the rules are the same - if you don't like the license, don't use the product - use a competing product with a license you can accept.

      You seem to have forgotton about the war in Iraq and the chaos that followed "Mission accomplished".

      There aren't many seeds.

      Many of the fields have withered and died because there hasn't been enough irrigation, or money to pay the labor to support the fields. Grain houses have been destroyed. Crops have been contaminated. The agricultural economy has collapsed... hard to sell your produce when there are warplanes bombing your village.

      The US solution to this problem is to provide GMO seeds, which require a license to use. The Iraqis don't have much choice in the matter... the economy has been devistated, and they need to take whatever they can get.
      • Re:Typical bias (Score:3, Insightful)

        by csguy314 ( 559705 )
        The US solution to this problem is to provide GMO seeds, which require a license to use. The Iraqis don't have much choice in the matter...

        The use of food aid for strategic gain is common. The typical course of action for the US is to give food aid that includes GM plants and crops. There are countries that refuse to accept this (much to the dismay of the US), in favour of keeping good relations with the EU (which tries to control distribution/use of GM crops). There may be little choice in Iraq, not nece
        • Bad form self-reply yada yada...
          I just saw something on the news about opening the markets for rice in South Korea. The problems with this are similar to the problems involved with accepting food aid. The idea that "aid" is given with harmful intent (specifically, weaking the local production [american.edu] of similar products and progressively create a captive market) but it's a reality that's become far more profitable for the aid-giving country with the advent of IP protected GM foods.

          http://www.american.edu/TED/KORRI
    • Re:Typical bias (Score:5, Informative)

      by Johnny Mnemonic ( 176043 ) <mdinsmore@nOSPAm.gmail.com> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @06:22PM (#10809355) Homepage Journal

      Only if the farmers are using GM seeds. If they use normal seeds, then there is no problem with holding back seed for next year.

      WRONG.

      Percy Schmeiser's battle. [www.cbc.ca]

      Even though Schmeiser didn't intend to grow the plant, didn't profit from it's growth, and in fact tried to eradicate it, he was still sued, and he lost. He wasn't able to eradicate it because Monsanto made the plants hard to kill by design.

      Ingenious business model, really. Maybe I'll design a (non-fatal) virus that is effectively treated by a medicine that I control. I'll sue anyone that attempts to treat it any other way. Afterall, if you don't want to pay my price, just don't get sick, right?

      I think you've rather betrayed your own bias.
      • I always wondered about that guy... Couldn't he charge "rent"? Just put up a sign that says "Will house your IP protected seeds, $40,000 per growing plant per year. Simply blow ing some seeds on the wind to sign up."
      • Even though Schmeiser didn't intend to grow the plant, didn't profit from it's growth, and in fact tried to eradicate it, he was still sued, and he lost. He wasn't able to eradicate it because Monsanto made the plants hard to kill by design.

        As you said: WRONG.

        Schmeiser lost the suit because he deliberately saved and interbred with GMO seed. But that inconvient fact doesn't get covered much.

        I think you've rather betrayed your own bias.

        My thinking exactly.

  • by Jukashi ( 240273 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:26PM (#10808633) Homepage Journal
    The U.S. regime will most likely criminalize the use of the olds seeds. And even if they do not its only a matter of time before the new seeds will "find" a way into their crops and the patent holders will begin to extort the iraqi farmers. Think its a conspiracy theory? It's already happening. IN CANADA [www.cbc.ca]
    • The U.S. regime will most likely criminalize the use of the olds seeds.

      Do you have any evidence for this claim, or is it just something you had to make up to feel comfortable with your personal, pre-existing point of view?

      The idea is, on the face of it, absurd on every level. I say this as a more-or-less Bush supporter, too.

      Your second sentance is a bit more sensible, although I would expect that if this becomes even a remotely big fuss, the rules will be removed since it isn't even remotely worth a po
    • I'm sorry, but you can't use the Schmeiser trial as evidence that the practice of saving seeds is going to be criminalized. The Supreme Court ruled that he knowingly kept and propagated Roundup Ready canola that he hadn't paid for. Since he knew that it was RR, and he kept it knowing that it wasn't his, he was at fault.

      That's a far cry from having grown your own seeds for thirty years and then suddenly being forced to buy new ones.
    • The first part is wild speculation but you used "U.S." and "Regime" together in a slashdot post so +1 tinfoil... err I mean insightful for you.

      The second part deals with Corn in canada which primarily is a wind born crop. Wheay and Barley which are the major crops of Iraq are self fretilizing.

  • by Picass0 ( 147474 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:28PM (#10808647) Homepage Journal

    It is only illegal to save the GM seeds from one year to the next. Those farmers using the GM seeds are bound to the terms of a contract - just like someone using the GPL is bound to those terms.

    A farmer not buying GM seeds is not compelled legally to do a damn thing different.

    • by ebrandsberg ( 75344 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:37PM (#10808708)
      I don't think you got the point to the article. Most of the advancement that these GM seeds rely on was as a result of thousands of years of selective practices by generations of farmers. That they add in one feature and sell the seeds is akin to taking a large GPL program, adding in one feature and selling the binary without source. The ancestors of the plans that we eat are many times very much distant from what we grow today, GM or not, and that work has taken thousands of years to bring us this far.
      • That they add in one feature and sell the seeds is akin to taking a large GPL program, adding in one feature and selling the binary without source.

        Actually, it's akin to taking a large public domain program, adding in one feature and selling the binary without source.

    • by Jagungal ( 36053 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @04:57PM (#10808825)
      I know this is /. but the problem especially in this one is that most people here are shooting from the hip and not bothering to read the story.

      The Story is about the US changing the laws regarding GM Seeds - not the Iraqis changing them. Previously in Iraq (and it still should be) it was illegal to sell a seed and say that you could not save the seeds from the plants. It is a pretty simple principle - you buy the seed, you can breed from it.

      One way of looking at it is that seeds always have been kind of GPL - you get them for free .. and any changes you make are passed on to others .. who again improve them. This one is about companies getting something that was produced by someone else .. making small changes and then trying to licence it back - license something that was like GPL and not thier total IP in the first place. Iraq rightly IMO had laws against this.

      It should be that if GM seed companies don't like the Iraqi law then they should not sell thier seeds in Iraq.

      Nobody in Iraq would want to be controlled by a foreign country and have thier food supplies dependent on seeds from that country.

      Read the story dudes.
    • Re:Mod story = true (Score:3, Informative)

      by frost22 ( 115958 )
      A farmer not buying GM seeds is not compelled legally to do a damn thing different.
      You are sadly mistaken.

      just ask this guy [www.cbc.ca]
  • How are they enforcing this?

    I mean, they have to get a sample, so just guard your land, and shoot any moron trying to swipe a sample of your crop - its tresspassing, plain and simple.

    Personally, I'd put up a nice sized electric fence, get some dogs, and nice long rifle.

    I wouldnt use the GM seeds, but if someone tried to "sample" my goods to "prove" I *was* using them, they'd lose that arm.
  • by austad ( 22163 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:02PM (#10808853) Homepage
    Hopefully they will send armies of lawyers over. To Iraq. To argue... with angry Iraqis... who have AK-47's....

  • by Thunderstruck ( 210399 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:06PM (#10808877)
    As I read the article, there is nothing which forces the farmer in Iraq to make use of IP Protected GM seeds. They may continue to use domestic or free varieties. The only issue is that in the past there was no legal protection for seed crop IP in Iraq, and now it is available.

    It seems in the end, that if they want to re-use seed crops, they need only refrain from purchasing those which require a license. While in the technology industry, customers may require that you provide products which include IP that must be licensed, When you're making food the rules are different:

    You may need to license software from Microsoft to make a product that works on your customer's computer.

    You do not need to license grain from ConAgra to make flour that my stomach can digest.

  • Yay!! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'm sure the Iraqis will just LOVE their newfound freedom!!!

    Give me a break :/

  • by tclark ( 140640 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:32PM (#10809045) Homepage
    If any "IP" lawyers want to go over to Iraq and start filing lawsuits, I'll pay their airfares. Better that we fight the lawyers in Iraq rather than deal with them on our own soil.
  • This shows US is colonizing not "freeing" the countries it chooses to invade.
    This looks a lot like the UK supporting independence in latin america in the XIX century to take control away from Spain.
  • by caffeine_monkey ( 576033 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @05:52PM (#10809200)
    This from the PDF:
    65) Chapter Threequater, Article 14 is added to read as follows: "Taking into consideration the provisions of Articles 15 and 16 of this Chapter: A. After registration of the variety, the following acts with respect to the propagating material of the
    protected variety (my emphasis) shall require the authorization of the breeder: 1. production or reproduction (multiplication); 2. conditioning for the purpose of propagation; 3. offering for sale; 4. selling or otherwise marketing; 5. exporting; 6. importing; or 7. stocking for any of the purposes mentioned cited in this paragraph.

    I believe this means that this only applies to patented seeds. Of course, the law may or may not say anything about the patentability of common, naturally occurring seeds (eg. texas-based Ricetec's attempt to patent several varieties of basmati rice).

  • Who in Bush's name is going to enforce this law?
  • Or at least took the bulk of the "thought" in the article from one of the Chosky texts (I had read last year, don't recall the title) and supplemented it with links to VegSource and grain.org.

    What neither of those sources, nor the writeup, bothered to mention that the Iraqis are not forced to use the GM seeds. It should be like this:

    if (iraqis.useNewSeeds) {
    $TEXT_OF_ARTICLE
    } else {
    $SAME AS BEFORE
    }

    More relevant information can be found here [msn.com].

    Basically, a lot of Iraqis are farmers but they still had
    • you are wrong. if your neighbour uses montsanto seeds, and montsanto can prove some spillover, you are liable for payment as well. just ask the canadian guy they successfully sued for hundreds of thousands for that specific reason.

      gene patents are pure evil. resist them.
      • you are wrong. if your neighbour uses montsanto seeds, and montsanto can prove some spillover, you are liable for payment as well. just ask the canadian guy they successfully sued for hundreds of thousands for that specific reason.

        Fuck that. If that happens to someone, they should get a better lawyer because if it's not your decision to use those seeds and it happened by accident then you should not be liable for what happened.

        This is different from a farmer consciously deciding to use GM seeds and havin
  • by belmolis ( 702863 ) <`billposer' `at' `alum.mit.edu'> on Saturday November 13, 2004 @06:12PM (#10809299) Homepage

    I'm no fan of either the US invasion of Iraq or of the shennanigans of companies like Monsanto, but the revised IP law simply doesn't say what the article says it says. The relevant provision is on p.22, section 66, par. B. It prohibits farmers from re-using the seed of protected varieties only. It doesn't prohibit them from re-using the seed that they've always used. And contrary to what some posters have claimed, Monsanto and other such companies cannot acquire ownership of traditional varieties. The same law provides clear criteria for patents that allow patenting only of newly developed varieties. So unless patents are granted improperly (a different, though as we know, significant problem), farmers in Iraq can go right on re-using their seed just as they always have.

    Indeed, I was struck by one provision of this law, which grants fewer rights to the patent holder than does US patent law. Section 8 on p.3. allows people who started using or manufacturing, or even preparing to use or manufacture, something covered by a patent before the issuance of the patent, to continue to do so! In other words, no submarine patents! In some ways, this new patent law is actually progressive.

    By the way, parts of this law sound to me like they were not written by a native speaker of English. Maybe I just don't know the technical terminology of plant breeding. Is it normal in English to talk about the "education" of a plant? This sounds like a mistranslation from another language to me.

    • You seem to be a little clueless. How is the farmer supposed to tell the difference ? Montsanto recently established the principle that even if you never bought from them you are liable to pay them. They bankrupted a Canadian farmer whose seed was spoiled by blown in montsanto traces. when he used his own seed, they sued him all the way through the court sysytem - and won.

      seed is not software. life grows, often out of human control.
      • Hardly. I'm well aware of the Schmeiser [percyschmeiser.com] case, familiar enough to know what actually happened. To begin with, they didn't bankrupt him. Although the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the claim that Schmeiser infringed Monsanto's patent, they also ruled that he didn't benefit from it and that therefore he didn't owe Monsanto any damages and didn't have to pay Monsanto's legal fees. Secondly, the Schmeiser case was not so clearcut - the trial court ruled that Schmeiser KNOWINGLY used seed from a portion of his f

  • Good thing they got that all hammared out before, say, running water and electricity. Don't want to graciously offer people, I dunno, medical treatment or schools or other such luxuries and then replay you by stealing your genetically modified corn, right?
  • Early IP (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Atomic Fro ( 150394 ) on Saturday November 13, 2004 @09:52PM (#10810416)
    I always find stories involving DNA and seeds as IP interesting. By some my great grandfather, Chris Christensen, is considered to have single handedly saved the stereotypical watermelon from extinction on a bet of $5.


    Way back watermelon as we know them were nearly brought to extinction by a form of blight. Universities and such had developed breeds resistant to the disease, but either flavor, color, shape, and even the seeds were radically different from what we think of as the watermelon.


    Frustrated, in about four years my great grandfather and cross-bred a breed that had black seeds, a red core, full flavor, and striped green that was nearly impervious to disease.


    In his memoirs he comments on how people are amazed at how he didn't acquior a fortune on his creation. He talks about how natural life, such as watermelons, were on patentable and all anyone needed to produce them was the seed widely available from one of his melons.


    Whenever stories like these crop up, I think about how rich my family could have been, and am always greatful that we aren't everytime I see a youngster enjoying a fresh cut melon. I am also grieved by the fact that patents like this even exist. And that companies, not the farmers, hold them and reap the financial benefit from them.


    How long will it be before we will have to pay a licensing fee to cook with these IP laden herbs and vegetables?

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