Forgive me if I manage to see a conspiracy of industrial agriculture everywhere I look...
(Update, 1/4/05: Oddly, The Advocate has removed the electronic archive of this story, so the link is dead. If you'd like to read where I found it, go to Chrenkoff's blog and read the his "Good News from Iraq, Part 18". I could make a career out of pointing out the contradictions in his writing...)
The US military is now providing free wheat seed to Iraqi farmers--434 tons of it so far. Sounds like a public relations victory on the surface... but then listen to this comment from Army public affairs:
"Iraq's wheat seed has been degraded tremendously because the farmers harvest their grain and then use the same wheat to replant," Acree said
Ahh! The catch: it's F1 hybrid seed that they're giving away--does not produce a fertile product. In other words, they can't replant it and grow more wheat next year. So... now they're dependent on more free wheat seed next year. How long will it be before they have to pay Archer Daniels Midland market price for their newfound habit? This is just one more example of the commodification of sustainable peasant agriculture, and the tendency of hierarchy to continually intensify by creating dependency.
And when the pollen blows in the wind and cross-polinates with other local Iraqi farmers, will the seed-patent holder sue for ownership? That's what is already happening in the US...