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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Monsanto and Ukraine

Joyce Nelson

Finally, a little-known aspect of the crisis in Ukraine is receiving some international attention. 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.” [1]

In late 2013, the then president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, rejected a European Union association agreement tied to the $17 billion IMF loan, whose terms are only now being revealed. Instead, Yanukovych chose a Russian aid package worth $15 billion plus a discount on Russian natural gas. His decision was a major factor in the ensuing deadly protests that led to his ouster from office in February 2014 and the ongoing crisis.

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’.” [2]

Ukrainian law bars farmers from growing GM crops. Long considered “the bread basket of Europe,” Ukraine’s rich black soil is ideal for growing grains, and in 2012 Ukrainian farmers harvested more than 20 million tonnes of corn.

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