September 19, 2014

The collapse of native Iraqi agriculture, and the prosper of US Biotech and GMOs in Iraq

pin it button The collapse of native Iraqi agriculture, and the prosper of US Biotech and GMOs in Iraq

One more war crime: Death of Iraqi agriculture

by Richard Brenneman

Way back when esnl was a budding anthropology student, we learned about the history of agriculture, and the development of wheat cultivation and irrigation in the Fertile Crescent, the flood basins of the Nile, Tigris, and Euphrates rivers.

Now, thanks to the American military conquest of Iraq and the installation of an American Big Agra corporate executive as the region’s agricultural overlord, Iraqi farming has collapsed, and industrially farmed GMOs have replaced the small farms that once supplied all of the nation’s food needs.

A once self-sufficient land has been reduced to a food importer, relying on imports, mainly for the U.S., to replace the food it once grew for itself. So a war we were endlessly told was waged to bestow “freedom” has instead brought poverty and corporate servitude.

This clip is an excerpt from a documentary in progress from Richard G. Rowley, co-founder of Big Noise Films. We look forward to completed film.

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The Assault on Iraqi Agriculture — U.S. Agribusiness Targets the Fertile Crescent

  • By Daniel Stone
    Coastal Post, August 2006

via Organic Consumers Association

Blessed with abundant fertile land and water, Iraq, the cradle of civilization, the center of the Fertile Crescent of ancient Mesopotamia, the birthplace of agriculture 13 millenia ago, has, in the past, not only been able to feed itself, but to supply other areas of the world with its bountiful harvest of grains, pulses, dates and vegetables. How unfortunate that now these proud people are receiving most of their food as “aid.” Over the past 20 years, due to the Iraq-Iran war, the two U.S. Gulf “wars,” and the brutal, illegal, U.S.-driven sanctions over 13 years, during both Republican and Democratic administrations, Iraq’s agricultural sector has been devastated.

20 Years of Bombing, Sanctions, Oil-for-Food, and Depleted Uranium

In 1991, the U.S. deliberately bombed Iraq’s civilian infrastructure of water purification and electrical plants, and then prevented Iraq from rebuilding same by imposing sanctions (more accurately a “military blockade” – an act of war). In both 1991 and 2003, “US bombing raids targeted cattle feed lots, poultry farms, fertilizer warehouses, pumping stations, irrigation systems, fuel depots and pesticide factories —the very infrastructure of Iraqi agriculture.” It will take years to restore these operations under good conditions.

Under the U.S.-driven sanctions’ rubric of “dual use,” the most common and necessary materials were blocked from entering Iraq. For instance, some parts for irrigation systems were banned, thus preventing the repair and use of irrigation. Consequently, only half the irrigable southern part of Iraq is now irrigated and properly utilized. Similarly, parts and materials for water-purification systems were banned by the U.S., resulting in widespread disease and death, particularly among children under age five. The lack of the most basic medicines during the years of blockade compounded the deaths, estimated as high as two million, mostly children. The hundreds of tons of depleted uranium the U.S. illegally expended in weapons’ discharges in Iraq both in 1991 and in 2003 account for many anomalous birth defects and soil contamination. Our aerial bombing of, and sanctions on, Iraq over the past 15 years are perhaps the world’s most blatant example of state terrorism in recent history. Two heads of the Oil-For-Food (“OFF”) Program — Denis Halliday and Hans von Sponek — quit in disgust, refusing to be a part of what they saw as a genocidal process of slowing murdering Iraqi civilians by sanctions.

The Oil-For-Food Program — Agribusiness Disguised as Aid

As the OFF Program related to Iraqi agriculture, it was a severe disincentive to farmers. Except in the northern region, the OFF Program was prohibited from purchasing locally-produced food. The OFF Program was characterized by some critics as a scheme to guarantee oil supplies to the west, and to create food dependency in Iraq. Now over half of Iraq’s food is imported, and a significant part of the population is dependent upon government-financed food rations for survival.

U.S. Policies — Fox Put in Charge of the Chicken Coop

As Heather Gray has pointed out, “Wars are invariably a pretext for economic expansion and opportunities for corporate greed.” What better target for U.S. agribusiness than a U.S.-occupied country such as Iraq? Such a country would be powerless to oppose the re-writing of its laws, and the conversion of its sovereignty to becoming just a vassal state, a colony, a breadbasket for the “Homeland.” No better evidence of this was the installation in April 2003 of Daniel Amstutz, former Cargill Corporation executive, to oversee the “rehabilitization” of agriculture in Iraq.

Cargill, a violator of the rights and independence of family farmers throughout the world, is notorious for using massive subsidies from the U.S. government to dump vast amounts of grains in poorer countries. This action “undermines small farmers, helps to destroy the local food production systems, and forces dependence of small farmers and local rural economies on corporate agribusiness.”

U.S. Policies — GMOs and the Detrimental Effects of Order 81

After the so-called “transfer of sovereignty” in June 2004, when former Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) administrator L. Paul Bremer III left Baghdad, he left behind the 100 orders he enacted as head of the occupation authority in Iraq. Of Bremer’s 100 Orders, Order 81 contains the edicts (paragraphs 51 – 79) pertinent to agriculture. Order 81, while claiming otherwise, will actually reduce biodiversity and thus lead to a monoculture susceptible to disease, increase chemical use, and pave the way for Genetically Modified Organisms (“GMOs”) to dominate food production in Iraq.

In fact, Order 81 was written to promote the patenting of seeds and the sale of GMOs. Before the U.S. illegally invaded and occupied Iraq, it was not legal to patent seeds. Now, under U.S. decree, to patent varieties of seed, all that is necessary is to be the first to “describe” or “characterize” them. Even though technically, the Iraqi farmer is not being stopped from saving and sharing seed from traditional crops at this time, nevertheless there is now also nothing stopping Monsanto, Cargill, Dow, Syngenta, Bayer and other multinationals from “describing” or “characterizing” those traditional seeds, and thereby patenting those seeds in the future. And, when they do, the Iraqi farmer then will be prohibited from saving and sharing those seeds that have been passed down from generations, and will have to buy them from “the company store,” “trapped into a high-cost cash crop economy from which he will find it impossible to escape.”9

Iraqi farmers can be sued now by Monsanto “if their non-GMO crops are polluted by GMO crops planted in their vicinity.”10 A Canadian farmer, Percy Schmeiser (, was sued for such. No one came to his aid, and so Monsanto was able to win judgment, even though the court waived monetary damages. So it is important that people defend small farmers against the corporations. And, if Iraqis ever get their country back, they must immediately repeal the 100 Orders of Paul Bremer.

Order 81 was not written to rejuvenate Iraq’s agriculture nor protect biodiversity, but to protect the “intellectual property rights” of U.S. biotechnical and agribusiness corporations, such as Monsanto and Cargill. Iraqis were blocked from having any input regarding the language of Order 81. To compound this injurious legislation, the Bush administration issued an “executive order” to indemnify corporate looters from prosecution.

The broader U.S. plan is to incorporate Iraqi agriculture into the web of U.S. agribusiness, with Iraq growing a few high-yield cash crops for export to the Homeland (the U.S.) instead of growing basic crops to feed the Iraqi people. Subsequently, state-run food companies will be privitized, farm subsidies will be eliminated, and food prices will increase, all in keeping with the same U.S. agenda world-wide. Driving Iraqi farmers into a privitized free market will destroy small family farms in Iraq just as similar policies have done here in the U.S.

Small farmers are the best caretakers and sustainers of the land, as well as the most efficient food producers per unit of land. Since they are closer to the land than the agribusiness giants, they know best how to care for it, to nurture it. So agriculture should remain primarily local, and not global. The essence of food security is in locally controlled and produced food.

Iraqi Agriculture as Part of the Larger Picture in Iraq and the World

As Iraqi agriculture is a part of, and affected by, the overall situation in Iraq, it is important to know the larger picture. For instance, how is American “reconstruction” going?

“In fact, reconstruction has failed. Almost three years after the war began, oil production is well below pre-war levels, Baghdad is getting only an average of 3.2 hours of electricity a day, and more than 60 percent of water and sanitation projects have been canceled.

“So now, having squandered billions in Iraqi oil revenue, as well as American taxpayer dollars, we have told the Iraqis that from here on it is their problem. America’s would-be Marshall Plan in Iraq, reports The Los Angeles Times, ‘is drawing to a close this year with much of its promise unmet …’” – Paul Krugman, “State of Delusion,” New York Times, 02-03-06, p. A27

The Bush Administration has been accused of “incompetence” in the handling of the illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq. However, the agenda of the Bush Administration’s neo-conservative cabal, which runs America’s foreign policy, was always to destroy Iraq as a sovereign nation, to colonize it, not to “democratize” it, or in any other way reconstruct it, except in our own image and under our total control. Even before they became major figures in the Bush foreign policy team, David Wurmser, Richard Perle and Douglas Feith predicted in 1997, as members of the “Project for a New American Century,” that a post-Saddam Iraq would likely be torn apart by sectarian conflicts, but advocated that the U.S. “expedite” such a collapse anyway.

In conclusion, we can see how the predatory capitalism practiced by American agribusiness in Iraq fits into the larger world picture described by A. V. Krebs:

“Food, next to life itself, has become our greatest common denominator. Its availability, quality, price, its reflection of the culture it feeds and its moral and religious significance make it quite literally history’s ‘staff of life.’ Today, in the never-ending worldwide struggle to determine who will control its production, quality and accessibility, food is no longer viewed first and foremost as a sustainer of life. Rather, to those who seek to command our food supply it has become instead a major source of corporate cash flow, economic leverage, a form of currency, a tool of international politics, an instrument of power — a weapon!”

- A.V. Krebs, The Corporate Reapers: The Book of Agribusiness (Essential Books: 1992); Director of the Corporate Agribusiness Research Project, PO Box 2201, Everett, WA 98203. He publishes a free e-mail newsletter, The Agribusiness Examiner; email; web site

Daniel Stone is a member of the East Bay Coalition to Support Self-Rule for Iraqis (“EB-COSSI”), a collection of individuals and organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area dedicated to non-violent activities to assist the people of Iraq in achieving self-rule, so that they can live healthful, prosperous lives. To accomplish this end we are working through lobbying, education, and other means.

The members of EB-COSSI have been inspired by Voices for Creative Nonviolence ( to table at San Francisco Bay Area Farmers’ Market in the winter of 2006 as part of Voices’ “Winter of Our Discontent” Project to distribute articles and information about the plight of Iraq and Iraqi farmers in particular. Voices for Creative Nonviolence is an organization working since 1996 to nonviolently challenge the economic warfare being waged by the US against the people of Iraq. Voices continues its work today, acting to end the illegal, immoral US occupation of Iraq.

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How the Government has Earned $3.5 BILLION from the Claim that Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

How the Government has Earned $3.5 BILLION from the Claim that Vaccines Don’t Cause Autism

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Few among the American public truly understand just how huge the U.S. vaccine market is. Not only do drug companies reap huge profits from vaccines, so too does the U.S. government.

For example, did you know that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has accumulated $3.5 BILLION in vaccine tax revenue which is currently “sitting” in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Trust Fund?

This trust fund was established in 1988 “to compensate vaccine-related injury or death claims for covered vaccines.” The money in this fund comes from a $0.75 excise tax on vaccines recommended by the CDC.

So why does this Trust Fund have such a high balance, instead of paying medical expenses to families with vaccine damaged children? Probably because the government has decided that vaccines do not cause autism, the most common claim filed in the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program since its inception in 1986.

Costa Rica Supreme Court: GMO Approval Process Unconstitutional

Costa Rica Supreme Court: GMO Approval Process Unconstitutional

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In a ruling lauded by Costa Rica’s anti-GMO activists, the country’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court struck down the government’s regulatory framework on genetically modified organisms, declaring the process of approval for GMO projects unconstitutional.

In the court’s opinion, Chief Justice Gilbert Armijo Sancho wrote that the regulations violate the Costa Rican Constitution because the secrecy allowed to GMO companies in terms of the genetic information of their products violates the constitutional right to freedom of information.

“This is an important precedent that shows the interests of companies linked to this type of activity – among them the multinational Monsanto which is seeking permits to plant corn – have benefited from the granting of permits in a manner that violates the fundamental rights of the population,” FECON said.

Boy Held by Chicago Hospital in Medical Kidnapping Case Returns Home

Boy Held by Chicago Hospital in Medical Kidnapping Case Returns Home

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Local Fox News affiliate Fox4kc in Kansas City has reported that 17-year-old Isaiah Rider has returned home to Kansas City, even though the State of Illinois still retains his custody rights. Isaiah was released from Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago where he was being held against his will, and the will of his family. He is reportedly staying with grandparents while his mother fights back against “medical abuse” charges for disagreeing with the hospital’s treatment and wanting to transfer him to a different hospital. Isaiah lost 5 months of his life to confinement in a hospital, and is now anxious to get back to school and resume his life.

Isaiah’s mother Michelle believes they held her son to conduct medical experimentation on his rare disease, Neurofibromatosis. Michelle will return to Chicago Friday to face trial. But in the meantime, at least Isaiah is back home in Kansas City, staying with his grandparents.

GMO Golden Rice not so “Golden” After All: Farmers Call to Stop GMO Rice Trials

GMO Golden Rice not so “Golden” After All: Farmers Call to Stop GMO Rice Trials

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GM Golden Rice was developed at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines with the hope that it could provide more vitamin A through beta carotene. The project was a huge disaster, however, and basically shelved for years. But then Bill Gates came along, the college-drop-out-turned-billionaire who started Microsoft Corp., looking for something to spend his billions of dollars to promote. All of a sudden, with big money providing jobs to pursue a failed project, GM Golden Rice had new life.

There’s just one problem: the Asian farmers don’t want it. Philippine farmers have called for a halt to field trials after very poor results, large debts, and a concern for their native rice seeds.

CDC’s Purchase of $4 Billion of Vaccines a Conflict of Interest in Overseeing Vaccine Safety

CDC’s Purchase of $4 Billion of Vaccines a Conflict of Interest in Overseeing Vaccine Safety

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Do you trust the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to oversee vaccine safety, when they have an annual budget of over $4 billion to purchase vaccines from drug companies? In 2015, they want to increase that amount by another half a billion dollars.

Dr. Brian Hooker says the CDC should not be trusted to oversee vaccine safety, and after 10 years of fighting legal battles with the CDC via Freedom of Information requests to secure raw data on vaccine safety studies, he now has solid evidence to back up his claim of fraud within the CDC.

In a shocking news story that rocked the online world but was almost totally ignored by the mainstream media a couple of weeks ago, senior vaccine scientist Dr. William Thompson was revealed as a whistleblower within the CDC, admitting that the CDC had withheld information from a key study in 2004 that supposedly showed that the MMR childhood vaccine was safe.

The CDC was forced to issue a response, and Dr. Hooker has now shown that the CDC response is clearly trying to cover up ethical lapses and explain away key data that was omitted from their original study. This data which was hidden from the public for more than 10 years was not favorable towards their own bias and what they wanted the public to believe about vaccines and autism. Dr. Hooker has clearly shown that the CDC has a conflict of interest, and cannot be trusted with research on vaccine safety when it is spending more than $4 billion of taxpayer funds to purchase vaccines from drug manufacturers.

So what’s next? Will this fraud within the CDC be allowed to continue? There are reports that there are other whistleblowers within the CDC that would like to come forward, but are too fearful at this point. Dr. William Thompson is now represented by one of the top whistleblower attorneys in the nation, and has reportedly turned over more than 1000 documents to Congressman Bill Posey.

The pharmaceutical industry is the richest and most powerful political lobby in the world, however. Will there be enough members of Congress to come forward and oppose them? Does the American public even care enough about this issue to take action and threaten lawmakers who refuse to act and remove vaccine safety oversight from the CDC? Will they demand that taxpayer funds NOT be increased by over a half billion dollars next year to fund the purchase of more vaccines that are produced by pharmaceutical companies who are convicted criminals, and whose products have not been proven safe? More:

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