Introduction – July 27, 2022
Western governments have invested much in Ukraine. Washington bankrolled Kiev with billions, despite facing major economic shortfalls at home. While Western corporate giants have also been very generous.
In recent years three giant Western companies – Cargill, DuPont and Monsanto – bought seventeen million hectares of Ukrainian agricultural land, despite fierce local opposition.
That seventeen million hectares means that nearly 60 percent of Ukraine’s total farmland is now owned and controlled by foreign transnational corporations!!!
It seems that Monsanto in particular intended to use its Ukrainian farmland as a means to break the European boycott of its genetically engineered produce. The hope was that with its Ukrainian farmland, Monsanto could circumvent the ban of its GM produce in some European countries.
Russia’s invasion will obviously change that as Moscow has banned Genetically Modified produce. So whether Monsanto makes good on its investment or not depends on what happens on the battlefield.
And right now things aren’t looking too promising for Kiev, or Monsanto. Ed.
War Within the War: The fight over land and genetically engineered agriculture
Mitchel Cohen in Covert Action Magazine – June 1st, 2022
Ten months before Russian troops poured into Ukraine, that country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a bill into law authorizing the private sale of farmland, reversing a moratorium that had been in place since 2001.
An earlier administration in Ukraine had instituted the moratorium in order to halt further privatization of The Commons and small farms, which were being bought up by oligarchs and concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. As documented in a series of critical reports over ten years by the Oakland Institute based in California, the moratorium on land sales in Ukraine aimed to prevent the acquisition and consolidation of farmland in the hands of the domestic oligarch class and foreign corporations.
The marketization of farmland is part of a series of policy “reforms” that the International Monetary Fund stipulated as a precondition enabling Ukraine to receive $8 billion in loans from the IMF.
Even amid the pandemic there has been “wide-ranging opposition from the Ukrainian public to reversing that ban, with over 64 percent of the people opposed to the creation of a land market, according to an April 2021 poll.”
Additionally, the IMF loan conditions required that Ukraine must also reverse its ban on genetically engineered crops, and enable private corporations like Monsanto to plant its GMO seeds and spray the fields with Monsanto’s Roundup. In that way, Monsanto hopes to break the boycott by a number of countries in Europe of its genetically engineered corn and soy.
It is the thesis of this essay that agricultural competition over land use between the U.S. and Russia—two gigantic capitalist countries with the most powerful nuclear arsenals in the world—is a neglected but important force driving the war in Ukraine.