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Order 81's Effect on Iraqi Agriculture, Iraq

Following the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. issued Order 81, prohibiting farmers from saving seeds. This devastated the agriculture sector by creating a reliance on corporations despite financial, environmental, and socio-economic risks and consequences.


Following the 2003 war and invasion of the United States (U.S) war on  Iraq, the U.S. government appointed diplomat Paul Bremer, as the head of the occupational authority in Iraq. Bremer issued several Orders for a "rebuilding" effort, one of which was Order 81, aimed at reforming Iraq's seed industry - previously centralized and resulting in a rich seed variety over the pre-war years.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Order 81's Effect on Iraqi Agriculture, Iraq
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict: 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict: 2nd level :Military installations
Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Biopiracy and bio-prospection
Specific commodities:seeds
Fruits and Vegetables
Biological resources
Project Details and Actors
Project details:

The US had long-term interests in developing markets in Afghanistan, but Iraq was already the number one destination for its hard red winter wheat exports and a top destination for its rice. It is a US$1.5bn market that wasn’t accessible to US companies before the invasion, because of the sanctions.

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Level of Investment:around $500,000,000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:01/05/2003
Company names or state enterprises:Cargill from United States of America
Monsanto Corporation (Monsanto Co) from United States of America
Dow Chemical Company from United States of America
Relevant government actors:US Government, Commander´s Emergency Response Program, Coalition Provisional Authority, USAID
International and Finance InstitutionsUnited States Agency for International Development (USAID) (USAID) from United States of America
Multi-National Corps-Iraq - Fought the Iraq War and managed CERP
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies
Green Party of the United States
Focus on the Global South
Conflict and Mobilization
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Media based activism/alternative media
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Monsanto Tribunal and People´s Assembly
Impacts of the project
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Genetic contamination, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Soil contamination
Health ImpactsVisible: Other Health impacts, Malnutrition
Other Health impactsIn 2005, United Nations human rights experts reported that about 25 percent of Iraqi children regularly did not have enough to eat, while 7.7 percent faced acute malnourishment.
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Other socio-economic impacts, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:New legislation
Development of alternatives:The Green Party endorsed International Seeds Day on April 26, and asked for repeal of Order 81 which makes Iraqi farmers dependent on US firms. ISD, organized by the Institute of Near Eastern & African Studies (INEAS), will educate the public and media about the importance of biodiversity and seed saving; the dangers of genetically modified food and patent seeds; the ruinous effect of Order 81 on Iraqi agriculture; and the growing resistance to the power of giant agribusinesses over seed resources.
The Green Party of the United States called on President Obama and Congress to repeal Order 81 immediately.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:According to more recent reports it seems Law No. 15 of 2013 cancelled Order 81 Articles 51-79 concerning plant variety registration and release.
Sources and Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Order 81
[click to view]

[8] Monsanto Tribunal
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[6] “Neoliberalism in a Conflict State: The Viability of Economic Shock Therapy in Iraq”, Strategic Insights, Vol. III, No. 6, June 2004

[1]The soils of war

GRAIN | 09 March 2009
[click to view]

[2] FAOSTAT, stats on the numbers about Iraqi Agriculture
[click to view]

[5] After Iraq's military defeat, Monsanto swept in to seize control of all agriculture, Wednesday, August 24, 2016 by: J. D. Heyes
[click to view]

[3] Rich Magnani and Sawsan Al-Sharifi, “Reform and Rehabilitation of Iraq’s agricultural sector: The case of the Iraqi wheat sector”, USAID–Iraq, 2005
[click to view]

[4] Latha Jishnu: Order 81 and the plunder of farming

Latha Jishnu | New Delhi Last Updated at January 20, 2013 20:02 IST
[click to view]

[7] Iraq: Restoring Occupation-ruined Agricultural , Dahlia Wasfi, Mint press news, 15 December 2016
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi's, a physician and environmental activist, speech in 2008.
[click to view]

Other documents

Monsanto Tribunal
[click to view]

Dr. Dahlia Wafsi and Paul Bremer
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Bahaa Zaatiti
Last update12/02/2019
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