Organic Consumers Association

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Monsanto in Iraq and Afghanistan

September 2, 2009
Organic Consumers Association
by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq., Political Director

From the start of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, OCA has been tracking the opportunities for Monsanto, a well-known war profiteer (Agent Orange, Vietnam), to take advantage of the current occupations. These include pushing glyphosate (Monsanto's Roundup herbicide) for poppy eradication in Afghanistan and opening the Iraqi market to the patenting of plants and seeds while preventing farmers from saving registered seed varieties.

As Vanity Fair reported last year, "In Iraq, the groundwork has been laid to protect the patents of Monsanto and other G.M.-seed companies. One of L. Paul Bremer’s last acts as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority was an order stipulating that 'farmers shall be prohibited from re-using seeds of protected varieties.' Monsanto has said that it has no interest in doing business in Iraq, but should the company change its mind, the American-style law is in place."

In fact, Monsanto has already been doing business in Iraq. According to a 2004 USAID Transition Plan for the Agriculture Sector in Iraq, "All the major international players in the pesticide field are now present in Iraq: Dow (USA), Syngenta (Swiss), Dupont (USA), Bayer (Germany), Monsanto (USA), Novartis, FMC (USA), Dupont and Uniroyal, BSF and Cynamide."

Monsanto's latest opportunity to do business in the US's occupied territories has been created by the National Guard's "Agri-Business Development Teams." The Missouri National Guard, which has maintained Agri-Business Development Teams in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan since fall 2007, hosted Safi Mohammed Hussein, agriculture director of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, on a recent visit to Missouri. While in St. Louis, Safi toured the headquarters of biotech giant Monsanto.

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