THE GMO SCRAPBOOK: GMO GEOPOLITICS, AND RUSSIAN AGRICULTURE

THE GMO SCRAPBOOK: GMO GEOPOLITICS, AND RUSSIAN AGRICULTURE

May 3, 2016 By Joseph P. Farrell

Over the previous years of covering the GMO issue on this website, I've been advancing the idea that if the BRICSA bloc were smart, they would make GMOs a geopolitical issue, along the lines of everyone having a basic human right to (1) know what they're eating and (2) to be able to choose to eat non-GMO foods. This, of course, is a hot-button way of stating the problem of the mercantilist policies successfully pursued by I.G. Farbensanto and other agribusiness giants in the west, who've been fighting tooth-and-nail against GMO labeling laws, and organic foods. Their science has been doctored, their claims on the healthiness of their products is in dispute.

I've also suggested that Russia, at least, does appear poised to make GMO geopolitics part of its domestic and foreign policy agenda. We saw first the Russian bans on GMOs, then the Russian government's commitments to inter-generational scientific testing of the health and environmental impacts of GMOs. And along the way, I blogged about studies from the University of Iowa that also document falling yields and rising costs for GMO farmers. Now, there's this article, shared by Ms. M.W.:

Now Russia Makes an Organic Revolution

The article, by F. William Engdahl, author of the GMO study Seeds of Destruction, makes it clear that Russia's argicultural plicy is carefully considered, not only for the good of the Russian people, but also that it is positioning itself to become a supplier of non-GMO foods, and seeds, to a western world drowning in glyphosphate:

One of the least commented sectors of the Russian economy—especially by superficial western economists who imagine Russia is merely an oil and gas export-dependent country much like Saudi Arabia or Qatar—is the significant transformation underway in Russian agriculture. Today, less than a year and a half into the decision to ban exports of major EU agriculture imports as a retaliation to the silly EU sanctions on Russia, Russia’s domestic farm production is undergoing a remarkable rebirth, or, in some cases, birth. In dollar terms, Russian exports of agriculture products exceed in value that of weapons, and equal a third of gas export profits. That’s interesting in itself.

President Putin told the assembled members of the parliament in his December speech, a Russian state of the nation review:

Our agriculture sector is a positive example. Just a decade ago we imported almost half of our food products and critically depended on imports, whereas now Russia has joined the exporters’ club. Last year Russia’s agricultural exports totaled almost $20 billion. This is a quarter more than our proceeds from arms sales or about one third of our profits from gas exports. Our agriculture has made this leap in a short but productive period. Many thanks to our rural residents.

I believe we should set a national goal — fully provide the internal market with domestically produced foods by 2020. We are capable of feeding ourselves from our own land, and importantly, we have the water resources. Russia can become one of the world’s largest suppliers of healthy, ecologically clean quality foods that some Western companies have stopped producing long ago, all the more so since global demand for such products continues to grow.
(Boldface emphasis added)

Note that President Putin has now said, in bald black and white, what I've been suspecting all along would happen: Russia at least would play GMO geopolitics, and  would directly challenge the whole basic assumption of American "agribusiness" and its reliance on GMOs, pesticides, and so on. Clearly, Mr. Putin has read the market trends, and is well aware of the growing opposition to GMos and American-style agribusiness models around the world, and means to position Russia to fill the void that the supposed "market economies" of Western agriculture can no longer fill, due to the privileged position those agribusiness companies have procured from their various governments. As Engdahl notes, this has led to the repeal of long-standing US food labeling laws:

In the United States, the Congress at the end of 2015 repealed a long-standing meat labeling law, the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law, that required retailers to explicitly state the country of origin on all red meat. Beef and pork packages in the US will no longer be required to bear a label saying where the animal originally came from. The US agribusiness lobbied for the change to allow them to import meat of dubious quality from developing countries where health and safety controls, and costs, are minimal. In many US agribusiness states where the industry has huge factors farm feeding operations, so-called “Ag-gag” state laws prohibit journalists to even photograph those industrial agricultural operations, often large dairy, poultry and pork farms. That’s because if the general public realized what is done to put meat on the US dinner table, they would go vegetarian en masse.

In this context, as Engdahl notes, Russia possesses unique advantages as a food supplier:

In the United States, the Congress at the end of 2015 repealed a long-standing meat labeling law, the Country-of-Origin Labeling (COOL) law, that required retailers to explicitly state the country of origin on all red meat. Beef and pork packages in the US will no longer be required to bear a label saying where the animal originally came from. The US agribusiness lobbied for the change to allow them to import meat of dubious quality from developing countries where health and safety controls, and costs, are minimal. In many US agribusiness states where the industry has huge factors farm feeding operations, so-called “Ag-gag” state laws prohibit journalists to even photograph those industrial agricultural operations, often large dairy, poultry and pork farms. That’s because if the general public realized what is done to put meat on the US dinner table, they would go vegetarian en masse.

In all of this, there's an important consideration and implication: Russia's agriculture policies are clearly successful, both in terms of the production of food, and, more importantly, in the quality of that food both in terms of simple taste and in nurtitional value. In what is bad news for I.G. Farbensanto - our nickname here for the agribusiness giants of Western "agriculture" - this is a lesson that could easily spread to other nations that have been afflicted with corrupt American products and the "business practices" enabling them: the revolt could spread to other major producers such as Argentina, Brazil, and...China. As the Mr. Engdahl observes, there are already rumblings from China:

What was not understood in the Yeltsin era was that the food quality of those western imports had drastically declined since introduction of American “agri-business” and factory food in the 1970’s. The EU followed suit with its imitation of US industrial methods, only a bit less extreme. Further, intensive use of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, antibiotics which pass through animals into the fields, all have led to the dramatic depletion of essential micro-organisms in American and, increasingly, EU agriculture soils. As well, that has become true in China also according to well-informed agronomists.

China, of course, has flip-flopped on the agribusiness model, but eventually, I suspect the model now emerging in Russia is going to spread. The real crux interpretum will, of course, be if Russia enters the international non-GMO seed market. Sanctions or no, I for one, would not hesitate to pay a little more to enjoy real food and real vegetables raised in soil not polluted with the products of I.G. Farbensanto. And I imagine several American, Canadian, Australian, and South American farmers would be willing to as well. Is Russia starts selling seeds, then we'll know Mr. Putin is definitely playing GMO geopolitics. But thus far, all the indications point to the fact that the Russian government is aware of the growing problem, and is positioning itself strategically to meet a demand that the West's corrupt bought-and-paid for "representatives" long ago sold for the GMO pottage.

See you on the flip side...