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Snatch That Bread! Ukraine Might End Up Feeding Europe Instead Of Itself

January 30, 2015

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Ukraine is experiencing a corporate takeover of its agriculture, according to the Oakland Institute. Western corporations are taking advantage of current foreign policies while no one is looking. Frederick Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute, has made a detailed study of this.

It's no secret that organizations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank have been providing considerable financial aid to Ukraine ever since the change in government. However, the predictable consequences of these loans usually escape public attention.

Ukraine's agricultural sector has been a longtime target for foreign private investors and a priority sector for reform by the IMF and World Bank, which is no surprise, as it's the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat. The country is rich with over 32 million hectares of fertile land, which is about one third of all of the EU's arable land combined, hence why it is often referred to as Europe's breadbasket.

According to Frederick Mousseau, the current plan for foreign-driven agricultural reform in Ukraine includes "acquisition of agricultural land, cutting food and plant regulations and controls, and reducing corporate taxes and custom duties." 

Who Will This Benefit?

Lately, foreign companies, such as Cargill, Monsanto, and DuPont, have been slowly and steadily gaining control over Ukraine's agricultural supply chain. Whether this happened in a series of unrelated business ventures or was part of a joint effort, expansive takeover of Ukrainian land by foreign businesses now has support on a government level. This agenda was further promoted along with a "pro-business" reform throughout 2014.

"The European Union and the United States are working hand in hand in the takeover of Ukrainian agriculture."  - Frederick Mousseau

Another peculiarity pointed out by Mr. Mousseau is Article 404 of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union, which "commits both parties to 'extend the use of biotechnologies.'" The peculiar part being that Ukraine does not allow GM crop production and the European consumer does not favor it. Nevertheless, big agro-seed companies, like Monsanto, have always sought after an opportunity to bring GM products to Europe.

While these developments are obviously great for the agro-seed corporations, how any of this would benefit actual Europeans or Ukrainians remains unclear. Not to mention the effect outside companies will have on the millions of local farmers. The agricultural sector isn’t the only one that could be in trouble, as the country’s entire economy is possibly being manipulated to serve third parties' interests, which will eventually have a huge impact on the Ukrainian people. But the future is too hard to see behind the smoke of the conflict in the eastern part of the country.