THE GMO SCRAPBOOK: RUSSIA APPEARS WILLING TO PLAY GMO GEOPOLITICSDecember 6, 2015
A few days ago I blogged about China's recent decision to play 'GMO geopolitics" in reverse, by going after the acquisition of major western GMO seed companies like Syngenta. In following the GMO story over the years here at this website, I've advanced the notion that, with rising global opposition to GMOs, the BRICSA nations might be able to play a kind of geopolitical game with GMOs as the issue, by (1) pointing out the dubious science in favor of the "safety" of GMOs, (2) the increasing evidence that GMO cost effectiveness decline over time compared to natural or so called "heirloom" seeds, (3) by pointing out the corrupt corporate culture and mercantilist policies that have enabled the first two, and finally, (4) by injecting themselves into the markets as suppliers of heirloom seeds in opposition to the big GMO corporations, thus positioning themselves as the champions of GMO opponents.
In China's case, I had to chalk its recent decisions up in my "big miss" column, but maybe it's only half a miss, according to this article shared by Ms. M.W.:
Putin wants Russia to become world's biggest exporter of Non-GMO food
What's notable here is the context, and it's worth underscoring it for its signal importance:
Russia could become the world's largest supplier of ecologically clean and high-quality organic food, said President Vladimir Putin on Thursday. He also called on the country to become completely self-sufficient in food production by 2020.
"We are not only able to feed ourselves taking into account our lands, water resources – Russia is able to become the largest world supplier of healthy, ecologically clean and high-quality food which the Western producers have long lost, especially given the fact that demand for such products in the world market is steadily growing,"said Putin, addressing the Russian Parliament on Thursday. (Boldface emphases added).
President Putin, as noted, stressed the production of "ecologically clean and high-quality food" during his address last Thursday to the Russian State Duma. In this context, Mr. Putin appeared, as the RT article points out, to be signalling Russia's opposition to GMOs and its willingness to fill the breach on the global food market by supplying not GMO foods. Note that Mr. Putin also stressed that this is a quality "Western producers have long lost," thus placing his remarks in a clear geopolitical context.
But do we yet have the kind of GMO geopolitics I've been suggesting over the years might emerge from within the BRICSA bloc?
Well, yes and no. Yes, in that Mr. Putin makes it clear that he wants Russia to fill the breach "which Western producers have long lost." One can therefore imagine that the Russian move will play to countries that have experienced growing opposition to GMOs: India, and, more close to the news, the Middle East. One can imagine, for example, that GMO foods might, under Islamic law, be considered unclean or "not halal". We need only recall the destruction of Iraq's agriculture - based on heirloom seeds - for GMOs in the wake of the American-led invasion, or more recently, Russia's intervention in Syria.
However, it appears that what Mr. Putin is talking about are foodstuff that are to some degree processed, and not the actual natural seeds themselves. Time will tell, of course, how his statements to the Duma will be interpreted by actual Russian practice and trade. But if Russia should enter the markets as a supplier of non-GMO seeds to countries with their own track record of disastrous pro-GMO policies, with their inevitable backlash - think only of Argentina and India in this respect - then the major GMO companies might be facing stiff competition.
So perhaps we can chalk this on up in a "half hit" column to the idea of "GMO geopolitics."
See you on the flip side...