Monday, September 08, 2014
by: J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) Embattled Ukraine, which is currently under siege (practically) by a belligerent Russia, once upon a time used to be called the “Breadbasket of the Soviet Union,” because most of the U.S.S.R.’s food came from there.
Even after the U.S.S.R. dissolved, Ukraine continued to be productive agriculturally, though its production of other goods and services, by 1999, had fallen to 40 percent of what the country was producing in 1991, when the breakup took place, according to the CIA World Factbook.
But now, while the Ukrainian government faces off against a powerful Russian army, the country’s agricultural production is about to be ambushed as well, according to CounterPunch:
On July 28, the California-based Oakland Institute released a report revealing that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), under terms of their $17 billion loan to Ukraine, would open that country to genetically-modified (GM) crops and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture. The report is entitled “Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.”
GMOs are banned in Ukraine, but…
CounterPunch reports further that, in late 2013, Viktor Yanukovych, who was then president of Ukraine, turned down an agreement with the European Union that was tied to a $17 billion International Monetary Fund loan; the terms of that agreement are just now becoming known.
Instead, the Ukrainian leader chose an aid package from Russia which amounted to about $15 billion, in addition to a discount on Russian natural gas (Ukraine gets nearly all of its natural gas from Russia, the CIA notes). Frederic Mousseau, Policy Directory of the Oakland Institute and co-author of “Walking on the West Side,” reported that the discount was 33 percent.
In any event, that decision was a major element of the ensuing deadly protests that eventually led to his ouster from office in February of this year, and the current crisis with Moscow.
In a column for Inter Press Service, Mousseau wrote:
Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.
In a report for Al Jazeera, Mousseau and Marin Kirk wrote:
There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, “Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont.”
Under Ukrainian law, farmers are banned from growing GM crops in the country’s rich black soil, which is more than favorable for growing grains; in 2012, Ukrainian farmers harvested more than 20 million tonnes of corn, CounterPunch reported.
The not-so-hidden hands of Monsanto and Dupont
Mousseau added that in the past 10 years Ukraine’s agricultural sector has been defined by growth that has been concentrated increasingly within very large corporations that use large-scale, intensive farming systems. Most of them are foreign entities, and not surprisingly then, the percentage of land held foreign corporations is growing very rapidly; more than 1.6 million hectares have been signed away to foreign-owned corporations in recent years.
Now, there is work afoot to ensure policies in Ukraine that ultimately benefit these (mostly) Western corporations. Though GMO crops are banned in Ukraine, Article 404 of the EU founding agreement, which pertains to agricultural production, contains a clause that has, until lately, gone virtually unnoticed: Both parties must cooperate on the use of biotechnologies.
“Given the struggle for resources in Ukraine and the influx of foreign investors in the agriculture sector, an important question is whether the results of the programme will benefit Ukraine and its farmers by securing their property rights or pave the way for corporations to more easily access property and land,” Mousseau reported.
Therefore, there is an effort underway by mega-biotechs like DuPont and Monsanto to force open Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector to foreign corporations and the influence that they seek to peddle.