THE GMO SCRAPBOOK: RUSSIA’S GMO GEOPOLITICS COMES INTO THE OPEN ...June 26, 2015
While I was scheduling this week's blogs, I had a brief email exchange with Ms. M.W., who shared the following op-ed piece by one of my favorite researchers, F. William Engdahl, and wait until you read what's in it:
Regular readers here will know that I've been predicting that the BRICSA nations would eventually make GMOs a geopolitical issue, if only for purely economic reasons to counteract the almost total dominance of western "agribusiness" firms such as Mon(ster)santo, making their products available to a western market that is now hopelessly overgrown with such corporations and their mercantilist policies. Indeed, I predicted that such moves would perhaps come from Russia first, and there have been indicators, here and there, that this "GMO geopolitics" was indeed in Russia's thinking, when various ministers called into question the entire "scientific" basis for GMOs. Last year Russia added fuel to the fire by calling for extensive inter-generational and comprehensive testing of GMOs. Now, in Mr. Engdahl's article, there appears to be more sweeping and generalized confirmation that this may be in the cards:
"Today’s Russian leaders have realized that what was considered under the corrupt Yeltsin era to be a liability—Russia’s agriculture—is one of her greatest assets.
I had occasion in the context of this year’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, to speak with the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture who told me the government has made a strategic decision to use the sanctions and Russian “counter sanctions,” namely banning imports of major food products of the European Union, to build a Russian natural or organic food production.
Deputy Minister, Sergey Levin, told me that Russia already today has banned any commercial planting of GMO seeds. His comments were echoed at the Forum by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich who announced that Russia will not use genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Russian Agriculture Minister, Nikolai Fyodorov has pledged to keep Russia a GMO-free country. At a meeting of deputies representing rural areas recently he declared in reference to GMOs, that the government will not “poison their citizens.”
They have realized that the abundantly rich, fertile Russian soil, owing to the Cold War requirements of diverting most chemical production into the military defense sector, has largely avoided the heavy soil application of agrochemicals that have done severe damage to the farmlands of the United States and much of the European Union since 1945. American agribusiness methods have been marvelous for increasing harvest yields but not for maintaining nutritional quality of the food produced. Here is where Russia has realized it can become a major world producer of organic, non-GMO quality agriculture products. Fertile Russian agriculture lands become even more strategic to world food supplies as the similarly fertile black soils of Ukraine are being destroyed by war and chaos there. (Emphasis added)
In other words, Russia recognizes that it stands poised to exploit the growing demands around the world for alternatives not only to GMOs, but to the corporate-backed "science" undergirding them. The other significant point here is the statement of the Rusian agricultural minister that the Russian government will not poison its citizens, a direct slap not only at the West but at its GMO corporations. In other words, expect a propaganda war to heat up on this issue, and like it or not, this is an issue that mere propaganda on the west's part will not and cannot win.
There's other leaks in Washington's dike, and Engdahl is quick to point them out, not the least being all of Russia's energy deals which seem to be bypassing Washington's and Brussels' demands to keep the sanctions regime in place:
The diversity of such strategic trade deals that emerged from St. Petersburg is impressive. Andrew Korybko, journalist and analyst with Moscow’s Sputnik News detailed some of the most significant of the deals that emerged from the Russian forum. Korybko points out that far from being regarded internationally as a pariah state, as a “rule-breaker” of rules of the Washington game, today’s Russia is becoming a magnet of international interest unprecedented her history.
That was demonstrated in the attendance at the annual St. Petersburg forum. Despite strong efforts by the silly US State Department to discourage attendance in St. Petersburg, this year a record number of paid participants, some 10,000, joined in three days of intensive discussion and signed over 200 contracts worth $5.4 billion in new trade deals with Russia, with tens of billions in new deals in serious negotiation. Attendance was some 25% more than a year ago, and a record for the 19 year-old forum, despite the repeated Washington and Brussels efforts to demonize Russia and Putin.
Sending a clear signal to their NATO-tied governments that they do not regard Russian sanctions as a hindrance to further cooperation with Russia in development of Russia’s vast undeveloped hydrocarbon resources, Britain’s BP and the Anglo-Dutch Royal Dutch Shell, as well as Germany’s E.ON, made major new agreements with Russia in St. Petersburg.
Russian energy giant Gazprom and Shell signed a memorandum on the construction of a third technical line for a liquefied natural gas plant on Sakhalin Island on Russia’s Pacific Coast. Gazprom also signed a memorandum on the construction of a gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea with E.ON, Shell and Vienna-based OMV oil and gas company.
Recently it was stated in various articles that the sanctions regime has cost the European Union member states dearly in lost business, exports, and contracts, leading the European locomotive, Germany's economy, to contract, while Frau Merkel blathered platitudes about "decarbonization" at the G7 summit. There's no two ways to interpret her remarks, either she and the German know something and have an ace up their sleeve, or she was just being silly and trendy. But in either case, the economic realities of the sanctions regime is that they are not in Europe's best interest, and sooner or later this will force Brussels (read, Paris and Berlin) to face reality. One can dream of the day when the Italian Prime Minister or the German chancellor (probably not Merkel) will give a press conference and just say that it's time for the USA to leave. The USA will say no, of course, and then the fun will begin...
...or maybe it already has. The other geopolitical move by Russia, in addition to the long term potential of its stance on GMOs, has to be the earthquake that just went off with Russia and Saudi Arabia:
One of the most geopolitically fascinating developments around the St. Petersburg forum was the appearance of Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Defense Minister and son of King Salman. Prince bin Salman, and Putin held a joint press conference during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum where Putin announced he had invited Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to visit Russia, and had accepted an invitation to visit Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the two discussed Saudi purchase of Russian nuclear power technology. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told RT that Saudi Arabia plans to use Russia’s expertise to build up to 16 power-generating nuclear reactors. Russia and Saudi Arabia signed an intergovernmental agreement on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. According to Russia’s state-run atomic energy agency Rosatom, for the first time in the history of Russian-Saudi relations it creates a legal framework for bilateral cooperation in nuclear energy, and opens prospects for cooperation in construction and operation of reactors, nuclear fuel cycle services as well as education and training.
Russian President Putin and the Saudi Prince discussed possible cooperation in the arms trade. Hmmmm. Until now Saudi Arabia has been a prime arms customer of the USA and of Great Britain. No doubt the May 9 Moscow parade of the most advanced Russian weapons systems caught the eye of Prince bin Salman. Referring to the talks between bin Salman and Putin on possible Russian weapons system purchases by Saudi Arabia, Foreign Minister al-Jubeir stated, “This issue [purchase of weapons] is being considered by the military experts from our countries. But I want to stress that nothing prevents us from buying Russian defense systems, just like nothing prevents Russia from selling them to Saudi Arabia.”
We can imagine this statement raised more than a few eyebrows in Washington and London and Brussels NATO headquarters, where it’s been assumed ever since the 1945 meeting between US President Roosevelt and Saudi King Ibn Saud securing exclusive rights for American oil majors to develop the huge oil reserves of the Saudi Kingdom, that Riyadh would be a US vassal state.
What Mr. Engdahl does not point out in his article (but no doubt is aware of) is Russia's heavy involvement in the Iranian nuclear fuel cycle, and its support for Iran and its role in brokering discussions with the West about that project. Thus, Russia, by opening the doors to Saudi nuclear deals and arms trade, is gaining an influence within both wings of the Islamic world, while simultaneously chipping away at that country's reliance upon western arms for its military. Behind this, one may expect to see deals for the exchange of intelligence. One may thus imagine that this not only raises eyebrows in Washington and Brussels, but that it set off a few quiet earthquakes. What emerges from this is that BRICSA bloc or no BRICSA bloc, Russia means to play its own game by its own rules, and to challenge the central dogmas of western globaloneyists, and their mystical and pesimistic dogmas of the obsolescence of the nation-state and its accompanying Malthusian pessimism. Russia is optimistic, in spite of all that has been dished out. Recent defections among the Ukrainian military have only reinforced these policy decisions as the corrupt fascist oligarchs - installed by Washington - in Kiev fumble their way to ruin. This is the reality.
The trouble is, they're not living in the real world in Brussels and Washington and London, and they seem to be hyptonized in Madrid, Paris and Berlin.
See you on the flip side.