Will Monsanto kill Ukraine’s farmers?

This 2013 video is about Monsanto.

By Colin Todhunter in Britain:

US agribusiness and its plans for Ukraine‘s farms

Monday 13th April 2015

COLIN TODHUNTER reports on a little-noted consequence of last year’s pro-EU coup

SMALL family and peasant farms produce most of the world’s food.

They form the bedrock of global food production. Yet they are being squeezed onto less than a quarter of the planet’s farmland.

The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families.

Big agritech corporations on the other hand take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and foreign markets that tend to cater for the needs of the urban affluent.

This process displaces farmers from their land and brings about food insecurity, poverty and hunger.

Big agribusiness with its industrial model of globalised agriculture claims to be addressing global hunger and food shortages — but it is doing nothing of the sort.

There is enough evidence to show that its activities actually lead to hunger and poverty, something that the likes of GMO-agribusiness-neoliberal apologists might like to consider when they propagandise about choice, democracy and hunger — issues that they seem unable to grasp, at least beyond a self-serving superficial level.

Across the world, small farmers are being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land.

They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land by foreign corporations.

The Oakland Institute has stated that now a new generation of institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, is eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class.

Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not ensuring food security.

Consider Ukraine, for example. Small farmers operate 16 per cent of agricultural land, but provide 55 per cent of agricultural output, including 97 per cent of potatoes, 97 per cent of honey, 88 per cent of vegetables, 83 per cent of fruits and berries and 80 per cent of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms are delivering impressive outputs.

However, the US-backed toppling of that country’s government last year seems likely to change this, with the installed puppet regime handing over agriculture to US agribusiness.

Current “aid” packages are contingent on the plundering of the economy under the guise of “austerity” reforms and will have a devastating impact on Ukrainians’ standard of living and increase poverty in the country.

Reforms mandated by a €1 billion (£720 million) EU-backed loan include agricultural deregulation that is intended to benefit foreign agribusiness corporations.

Natural resource and land policy shifts are meant to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land. Moreover, the EU Association Agreement includes a clause requiring both parties to co-operate to extend the use of biotechnology, including GMOs.

In other words, events in Ukraine are helping (and were designed to help) the likes of Monsanto to gain a firm hold over the country’s agriculture.

The World Bank and IMF are intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations, not least Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector.

The country is the world’s third-largest exporter of corn and fifth-largest exporter of wheat.

In recent years, foreign corporations have acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness has been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. It after all contains one third of all arable land in Europe.

Even in the mid-90s, the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council were encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds.

According to the Oriental Review website, “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.”

What is happening amounts to little more than the start of the US colonisation of Ukraine’s seed and agriculture sector. This corporate power grab will be assisted by local banks.

Apparently these banks will only offer favourable credit terms to those farmers who agree to use certified herbicides — those that are manufactured by Monsanto.

We need look no further than to Ukraine’s immediate neighbour Poland to see the devastating impact on farmers that Western agribusiness concerns are having there. Land grabs by foreign capital and the threat to traditional (often organic) agriculture have sparked mass protests as big agribusiness seeks to monopolise the food supply from field to plate. The writing is on the wall for Ukraine.

The situation is not unique to Poland, though.

The impact of policies that favour big agribusiness and foreign capital are causing hardship, harming health and destroying traditional agriculture across the world, from India and Argentina to Brazil and Mexico and beyond.

In an article by Christina Sarich posted on Natural Society, Hilary Martin, a farmer from Vermont in the US, encapsulates the situation by saying: “We are here at the (US-Canadian) border to demonstrate the global solidarity of farmers in the face of globalisation.

“The corporate takeover of agriculture has impoverished farmers, starved communities and force-fed us genetically engineered crops, only to line the pockets of a handful of multinational corporations like Monsanto at the expense of farmers who are struggling for land and livelihood around the world.”

The US has since 1945 used agriculture as a tool with which to control countries.

And today what is happening in Ukraine is part of the wider US geopolitical plan to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia and to subjugate the country.

While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is intended to integrate the wider EU region with the US economy — again “subjugate” may be a more apt word — by introducing GMOs into Ukraine and striving to eventually incorporate the country into the EU, the hope is that under the banner of “free trade” Monsanto’s aim of getting this technology into the EU and onto the plates of Europeans will become that much easier.

THE FATHER of Richard Sakwa, professor of Russian and European politics at the University of Kent and an associate fellow at Chatham House, left Poland in the face of Soviet occupation in 1939 and enlisted in the British army. Such a familial and academic background makes this impressively researched study of the current conflict in Ukraine all the more remarkable. Sakwa allocates the main responsibility for it to the West, particularly to what he describes as the “war party” in the US and their allies in the EU: here.

16 thoughts on “Will Monsanto kill Ukraine’s farmers?

  1. Dear friends across the EU,

    Top scientists warn the most commonly used herbicide in the world probably causes cancer! Monsanto is demanding the World Health Organisation retract their ground-breaking report. And experts say the only way to ensure the science is not silenced is if the public demands action, now.

    The regulatory system is renowned for being secretive and captured by the agro-chemical industry. But we have a unique moment right now — the EU is officially reassessing glyphosate, with similar processes underway in the US, Canada, and Brazil. And the Netherlands, Sri Lanka, and El Salvador are all looking at a ban.

    The threat is clear — this poison is used on our food, our fields, our playgrounds, and our streets. Let’s get it suspended. Join the urgent call and tell everyone:


    Monsanto is up in arms. Glyphosate brings in $6 billion per year. It is the basis of RoundUp, the chemical cornerstone of Monsanto’s Genetically Modified empire. The company says the WHO report ignored studies showing glyphosate is safe. But these scientists are 17 of the world’s top oncology experts, not a bunch of crazies! They comprehensively reviewed independent studies, excluding those done by companies seeking product approval.

    Regulators rely mainly on tests done by the companies trying to sell the poisons! Key results are kept from the public because they contain ‘commercially confidential information’, and 58% of the scientific panels in the EU Food and Safety Agency are linked to the sector. It’s nuts, but that is the system we have. And that’s why it’s going to take all of us to make sure this crucial independent report isn’t ignored.

    Some countries have already put bans on glyphosate. Now with the EU, the US, Canada, and Brazil all reviewing it, we have an incredible chance to turn the tide worldwide.

    Fifty years ago Monsanto’s pesticide DDT was everywhere until the seminal book Silent Spring showed it could cause cancer — a decade later it was banned. If this could cause cancer, let’s not let it be sold for ten more years. Let’s demand emergency precautionary action now. Join now and spread the word:


    We’ve done it before — we helped win a moratorium on bee-killing neonicotinoids in the EU and stop a Monsanto mega seed factory in Argentina. Now let’s protect our health and make sure we aren’t being used as lab rats. This could be a breakthrough moment in the fight for the safe, sustainable agriculture our world needs.

    With hope,

    Bert, Marigona, Antonia, Oliver, Alice, Emily, Danny, Nataliya, Ricken and the whole Avaaz team

    More information:

    New study points to link between weedkiller glyphosate and cancer (FT)

    Monsanto seeks retraction for report linking herbicide to cancer (Reuters)

    Weed Killer, Long Cleared, is Doubted (New York Times)

    The Real Reason to Worry About GMOs (Mother Jones)

    Groups seek EPA glyphosate review after WHO ‘carcinogenic’ link (Agri Pulse)

    More sources:

    Click to access Roundupsources.pdf


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  5. Le Monde Diplomatique. “En Allemagne, main basse sur les terres de l’Est.” By Rachel Knaebel, September 2015. http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2015/09/KNAEBEL/53690

    Translated: “In Germany, hands on the lands of the East. ” After experiencing the Prussian nobility, collectivization, cooperatives and transition, agriculture is German now arouses the appetite of big investors often foreign to the sector. A situation paradoxically favored by the structures inherited from the communist regime.

    Look at that! “Stefan Palme turns to a map of agricultural land in the area displayed on his computer screen. He is in his fifties and runs an organic grain farm 80 kilometers north of Berlin. One thousand one hundred hectares of wheat, rye, spelled, barley, oats, and partly farmhouse built in the seventeenth century on a former area of ​​junkers, the big landowners in the Prussian nobility. On the map, the man points out colorful polygons “The red patches are the Land of Brandenburg, the pink patches belong to the Church. “Then he points to the wider area: ” These lands belong to Steinhoff, those to Thomas Philipps. ” [Junker: lesser noble, landed aristocracy. Landownership was part of their noble privileges)]

    Steinhoff is a large German manufacturer of furniture, backed by an international holding company with its headquarters in South Africa. Thomas Philipps owns a chain of series of fine stores. Faced with such competition, even the large farm of Mr. Palme is no weight when it comes to buying or leasing land. “That’s the situation right now. There is a fight for each field. It’s the Wild West, “says the Bavarians settled in the area since 1996.

    Soon after reunification in 1990, East German agriculture saw the arrival of investors without a farming past but with well-filled pockets. The boss of an industrial empire of waste management (Remondis) has purchased in 1994 a number of 465 agricultural estates managed by the State at the time of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Called “property of the people”, these farms accounted for less than one tenth of the land is cultivated German. Agriculture in the GDR was organized instead around agricultural production cooperatives, subject to the control regime but consist of land and equipment pooled during forced collectivization that lasted until 1960 – in 1945, the Soviets had expropriated landowners with more than 100 hectares and state-owned land. Over three (…) – – – – – – – – – – – – – – X

    The Local, 26 Jan. 2014. “ ‘Land grab’ ups prices in eastern Germany.“ “European subsidies encourage ‘land grabbing’, because they’re currently guaranteed for a period of seven years,” In Hungary, the low cost of land has attracted investors from wealthy EU member states with the prospect of capturing lucrative agricultural subsidies following Hungary’s accession to the EU, La Via Campesina said. / It is a problem in Bulgaria and Romania too. / In Romania, foreign investors hold around 800,000 hectares or eight percent of all arable land, with Italians leading the race followed by Germans, Austrians, Danes and Dutch investors. / The investors include names such as KTG Agrar, a publicly listed agricultural group based in Hamburg, which owns 32,000 hectares in Germany, essentially in the east. / http://www.thelocal.de/20140126/land-grabbing-pushes-up-prices-in-eastern-germany

    ‘Land grab in eastern Germany.” Monocultures causing a dramatic reduction in plant diversity. KTG Agrar company. ( the first German agricultural business on the stock market ) http://www.dw.com/en/land-grab-in-eastern-germany/g-17114743

    ARC, 8 July, 2013. “Landgrabbing on Berlin’s doorstep: a public statement.” (ARC – Argricultural and rural Convention).
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    [In Prussia, the Junkers were the members of the landed nobility in Prussia. They owned great estates that were maintained and worked by peasants with few rights.[1]As landed aristocrats, the Junkers owned most of the arable land in Prussia. After World War II, during the communist Bodenreform (land reform) of September 1945 in the Soviet Occupation Zone, later East Germany, all private property exceeding an area of 100 hectares (250 acres) was nationalised and redistributed to Volkseigene Güter (“publicly owned estates”, VEG). As most of these large estates, especially in Brandenburg and Western Pomerania, had belonged to Junkers, the government promoted their plans with the slogan Junkerland in Bauernhand! (“Junker land into farmer’s hand”). After German reunification, some Junkers tried to regain their former estates through civil lawsuits]. wikipedia


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