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Critics decry GM rule in Iraq

They argue policy allowing transgenic wheat could wipe out natural varieties in the place where wheat was born

Anne Harding(anne_harding@yahoo.com)

Recent rule changes allowing farmers to use transgenic wheat species in Iraq to help rebuild the region's agriculture have some critics concerned that the new policy could help wipe out the natural hotbed of diversity in Iraq, where wheat originated.

"Introducing transgenic wheat means replacing this diversity and leaving it to extinction," warned Nagib Nassar, a professor of genetics at the Universidade de Brasilia. "It will be replaced by a monoculture with a very narrow genetic base. This is a problem. This will be a catastrophe."

What's gotten people worried is Order 81, one of 100 orders enacted by Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) Administrator L. Paul Bremer. Issued in 2004, Order 81 authorizes the introduction of GM crops as part of an effort to restore the nation's agricultural base, and gives intellectual property rights to the developers of new seed varieties.

This isn't the first time Iraqi farmers have...

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