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.