Land grab in Ukraine is Monsanto’s backdoor to the EU

From Oriental Review, April 6, 2015

The quest for Ukraine’s legendary black earth is almost complete. To the dismay of French, Polish, German farmers, the multinational agricultural corporation Monsanto, as well as DuPont Pioneer and John Deere, have all lobbied for access to the largest agricultural market in Eastern Europe. This will soon reshape the market for agricultural products in the EU and spell ruin for Europe’s farmers.

In Nov. 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that will benefit global ag producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. Taking a backseat to the dramatic political developments there, this turn of events went almost unnoticed, although Monsanto has been lobbying within Ukraine’s agricultural market for quite a while. Back in 2007 the US embassy in Kiev demanded that the Ukrainian government take action against sellers of “fake” seeds (i.e., producers competing with TNCs).

When GMO crops were legally introduced onto the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields, and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates. That equals about one million hectares of land growing GMO crops (or 3% of the country’s total farmland). Leaving aside for the moment the controversy about the hazards of GMOs in general, let us merely consider how the seizure of the Ukrainian market by American multinational agribusinesses will affect the EU’s economy.

Since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council have been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of the Ukrainian ag industry. Within two to three years, as the relevant provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU go into effect, Monsanto’s lobbying efforts will transform the Ukrainian market into an oligopoly consisting of American corporations.

Although the media in Kiev is awash in patriotic rhetoric, it is unlikely that any heroic figures will emerge who will stand up for the right of new generations of Ukrainians to live and work on wholesome land. The intellectual standards of the work being done by the Ukrainian Grain Association, for example, the largest umbrella organization of Ukrainian farmers, are on eloquent display in its latest press release, which needs no further comment.

Within a few years ag producers will expand their use of biotechnology licensed from the US, which Article 404 of the Association Agreement with the EU somewhat ambiguously refers to as “best practices … for agricultural policies.” Making Ukrainian ag producers addicted to seeds that are only available from America is part of a relentless PR campaign promoting GMO technology throughout Europe that brandishes keywords like “innovation,” “biotechnology,” and “the common EU market.”

Within the next few years, as addendums to Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU go into effect, Monsanto is counting on a significant increase in the acreage of ​​GMO cropland in Ukraine. Afterward they will begin to act out their role as a colonial power, raking in profits from emerging markets, although India already knows that story does not have a happy ending. The company was booted out a few years ago, after a ghastly outbreak of mass suicides among the local farmers, according to the Times of India.

Because of budget deficits and their dependence on the IMF, Ukrainian banks are now firmly tethered to external financing. IMF loans and assistance from the World Bank and other supranational organizations are secured by Ukraine’s rich black earth, in a practical as well as a legal sense. Local banks will only offer favorable credit terms to those farmers who agree to use certified herbicides. Naturally those are manufactured by Monsanto. The corporation will receive a steady income from that precious black earth, “wringing” the fertile soil dry.

Further proof that American investors have a sincere appreciation for the value of Ukraine’s black earth can be seen in the recent acquisition of a 50% stake by the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk, which specializes in agricultural exports.

Ukraine controls a third of all arable land in Europe. The hasty introduction of biotechnology into developing countries leads to deplorable results that are evident in Latin America and Africa. But Europe’s farmers will go bust much earlier. Their goods, which are produced by workers in the EU where the price of labor is quite exorbitant, cannot compete with the influx of GMO products from Ukraine.

Polish farmers know very well where all this is heading. They cannot win a court fight against the lawyers employed by these multinational giants, and so in 2013 they shifted their tactics in favor of mass protests.

By contrast, ag producers in France, Germany, and other EU countries still seem indifferent. The bottom line is that European farmers, who are somewhat removed from politics, have not yet grasped that Washington’s much-hyped propaganda about “working toward democracy in Ukraine” has but one objective – to toss another lasso around Europe’s economy and her agricultural producers, bringing them to their knees.

http://orientalreview.org/2015/04/06/land-grab-in-ukraine-is-monsantos-backdoor-to-the-eu/

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Ukraine agrees to Monsanto land grab for $17 billion IMF loan

From Popular Resistance, February 13, 2015
By Christina Sarich

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) is helping biotech run the latest war in Ukraine. Make no mistake that what is happening in the Ukraine now is deeply tied to the interests of Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, and other big players in the poison food game.

Monsanto has an office in Ukraine. While this does not shout ‘culpability’ from every corner, it is no different than the US military’s habit to place bases in places that they want to gain political control. The opening of this office coincided with land grabs with loans from the IMF and World Bank to one of the world’s most hated corporations – all in support of their biotech takeover.

Previously, there was a ban on private sector land ownership in the country – but it was lifted ‘just in time’ for Monsanto to have its way with the Ukraine.

In fact, a bit of political maneuvering by the IMF gave the Ukraine a $17 billion loan – but only if they would open up to biotech farming and the selling of Monsanto’s poison crops and chemicals – destroying a farmland that is one of the most pristine in all of Europe. Farm equipment dealer, Deere, along with seed producers Dupont and Monsanto, will have a heyday.

In the guise of ‘aid,’ a claim has been made on Ukraine’s vast agricultural riches. It is the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat. Ukraine has deep, rich, black soil that can grow almost anything, and its ability to produce high volumes of GM grain is what made biotech come rushing to take it over.

As reported by The Ecologist, according to the Oakland Institute:

“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: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies.

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’.”

The nation WAS Europe’s breadbasket – and now in an act of bio-warfare, it will become the wasteland that many US farmlands have become due to copious amounts of herbicide spraying, the depletion of soil, and the overall disruption of a perfect ecosystem.

The aim of US government entities is to support the takeover of Ukraine for biotech interests (among other strategies involving the prop-up of a failing cabalistic banking system that Russia has also refused with its new alignment with BRICS and its own payment system called SWIFT). This is similar to biotech’s desired takeover of Hawaiian islands and land in Africa.

The Ukraine war has many angles that haven’t been exposed to the general public – and you can bet that biotech has their hands in the proverbial corn pie.

https://www.popularresistance.org/ukraine-agrees-to-monsanto-land-grab-for-17-billion-imf-loan/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-agrees-to-monsanto-land-grab-for-17-billion-imf-loan/5431312

The West’s agri-business conglomerates take over Ukraine

Two reports by Oakland Institute are linked in the footnotes below the article.

From Asia Times, January 28, 2015
By Frederic Mousseau

At the same time as the United States, Canada and the European Union announced a set of new sanctions against Russia in mid-December last year, Ukraine received US$350 million in US military aid, coming on top of a $1 billion aid package approved by the US Congress in March 2014. 

Western governments’ further involvement in the Ukraine conflict signals their confidence in the cabinet appointed by the new government earlier in December 2014. This new government is unique given that three of its most important ministries were granted to foreign-born individuals who received Ukrainian citizenship just hours before their appointment.

The Ministry of Finance went to Natalie Jaresko, a US-born and educated businesswoman who has been working in Ukraine since the mid-1990s, overseeing a private equity fund established by the US government to invest in the country. Jaresko is also the CEO of Horizon Capital, an investment firm that administers various Western investments in the country.

As unusual as it may seem, this appointment is consistent with what looks more like a takeover of the Ukrainian economy by Western interests. In two reports – “The Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture” [1] and “Walking on the West Side: The World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict” [2] – the Oakland Institute has documented this takeover, particularly in the agricultural sector.

A major factor in the crisis that led to deadly protests and eventually to president Viktor Yanukovych’s removal from office in February 2014 was his rejection of a European Union Association agreement aimed at expanding trade and integrating Ukraine with the EU – an agreement that was tied to a US$17 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

After the president’s departure and the installation of a pro-Western government, the IMF initiated a reform program that was a condition of its loan with the goal of increasing private investment in the country.

The package of measures includes reforming the public provision of water and energy, and, more important, attempts to address what the World Bank identified as the “structural roots” of the current economic crisis in Ukraine, notably the high cost of doing business in the country.

The Ukrainian agricultural sector has been a prime target for foreign private investment and is logically seen by the IMF and World Bank as a priority sector for reform. Both institutions praise the new government’s readiness to follow their advice.

For example, the foreign-driven agricultural reform roadmap provided to Ukraine includes facilitating the acquisition of agricultural land, cutting food and plant regulations and controls, and reducing corporate taxes and custom duties.

The stakes around Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector – the world’s third-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat – could not be higher. Ukraine is known for its ample fields of rich black soil, and the country boasts more than 32 million hectares of fertile, arable land – the equivalent of one-third of the entire arable land in the European Union.

The maneuvering for control over the country’s agricultural system is a pivotal factor in the struggle that has been taking place over the last year in the greatest East-West confrontation since the Cold War.

The presence of foreign corporations in Ukrainian agriculture is growing quickly, with more than 1.6 million hectares signed over to foreign companies for agricultural purposes in recent years. While Monsanto, Cargill, and DuPont have been in Ukraine for quite some time, their investments in the country have grown significantly over the past few years.

Cargill is involved in the sale of pesticides, seeds and fertilizers and has recently expanded its agricultural investments to include grain storage, animal nutrition and a stake in UkrLandFarming, the largest agribusiness in the country.

Similarly, Monsanto has been in Ukraine for years but has doubled the size of its team over the last three years. In March 2014, just weeks after Yanukovych was deposed, the company invested $140 million in building a new seed plant in Ukraine.

DuPont has also expanded its investments and announced in June 2013 that it too would be investing in a new seed plant in the country.

Western corporations have not just taken control of certain profitable agribusinesses and agricultural activities, they have now initiated a vertical integration of the agricultural sector and extended their grip on infrastructure and shipping.

For instance, Cargill now owns at least four grain elevators and two sunflower seed processing plants used for the production of sunflower oil. In December 2013, the company bought a “25% +1 share” in a grain terminal at the Black Sea port of Novorossiysk with a capacity of 3.5 million tonnes of grain per year.

All aspects of Ukraine’s agricultural supply chain – from the production of seeds and other agricultural inputs to the actual shipment of commodities out of the country – are thus increasingly controlled by Western firms.

European institutions and the US government have actively promoted this expansion. It started with the push for a change of government at a time when president Yanukovych was seen as pro-Russian interests. This was further pushed, starting in February 2014, through the promotion of a “pro-business” reform agenda, as described by the US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker when she met with Prime Minister Arsenly Yatsenyuk in October 2014.

The European Union and the United States are working hand in hand in the takeover of Ukrainian agriculture. Although Ukraine does not allow the production of genetically modified (GM) crops, the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, which ignited the conflict that ousted Yanukovych, includes a clause (Article 404) that commits both parties to cooperate to “extend the use of biotechnologies” within the country.

This clause is surprising given that most European consumers reject GM crops. However, it creates an opening to bring GM products into Europe, an opportunity sought after by large agro-seed companies such as Monsanto.

Opening up Ukraine to the cultivation of GM crops would go against the will of European citizens, and it is unclear how the change would benefit Ukrainians.

It is similarly unclear how Ukrainians will benefit from this wave of foreign investment in their agriculture, and what impact these investments will have on the seven million local farmers.

Once they eventually look away from the conflict in the Eastern “pro-Russian” part of the country, Ukrainians may wonder what remains of their country’s ability to control its food supply and manage the economy to their own benefit.

As for US and European citizens, will they eventually awaken from the headlines and grand rhetoric about Russian aggression and human rights abuses and question their governments’ involvement in the Ukraine conflict?

Frederic Mousseau is Policy Director at the Oakland Institute.
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org

[1] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/corporate-takeover-ukrainian-agriculture
The Corporate Takeover of Ukrainian Agriculture

[2] http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/walking-west-side-world-bank-and-imf-ukraine-conflict
Walking on the West: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict
http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/press-release-ukraine-brief-russian-language

Source:

http://atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-02-280115.html
http://www.globalresearch.ca/gmo-crops-for-ukraine-the-wests-agri-business-conglomerates-snap-up-ukraines-bread-basket/5428060