GMOs

GMO GEOPOLITICS: CHINA’S TIT-FOR-TAT TARIFFS

March 26, 2018 By Joseph P. Farrell

The past couple of days I've been following stories related to what I've been calling (for several years) "GMO geopolitics." In yesterday's blog, GMO Geopolitics: Of Seed Banks and Syria, I outlined the basic feature of this idea as follows:

Over the years of watching and occasionally blogging about the international scope of the GMO issue, I've also watched the development of GMO geopolitics, as I like to call it. We may conveniently define this in two ways: (1) those powers of nations which are home to large agribusiness cartels and trusts, like the USA or Germany with IG Farbensanto, will pursue agricultural policies on the world stage designed to curtail, and eventually eliminate, natural (or as they're sometimes called, heirloom) seeds, thus gaining control over the world's food supply, and enriching themselves in the process, since heirloom seeds cannot be patented and charged a royalty for use, while GMO seeds can. In pursuit of this nothing-less-than-diabolical goal, any science or counter-arguments about the health and/or environmental safety of GMOs, or, in some cases, studies about falling yields and rising cost studies that would indicate heirloom seeds are a better investment than GMOs, will be suppressed. Farmers who have not planted GMOs will be hauled into court is GMO plants are discovered on their property, and sued for non-payment of royalties, even though the presence of GMOs on their fields might have been the result of natural processes. You get the idea. The counterpart of this is (2) nations or powers that do not rely on GMOs for their agricultural production can, by careful marketing, actually capture a large share of the world's agricultural trade, since many people don't want to eat foods that have been genetically modified. Such nations will also engage in their own counter-propaganda pointing out the problems of GMOs, of GMO corporations and their "behavior", and so on.

In other words, viewed a certain way, a kind of shadow war, not quite covert, but not quite overt either, is underway to cartelize and control the world's food supply and concentrate it in the hands of a few large corporations, or to resist this trend and to maintain genuinely open and fair markets with access to heirloom seeds. Russia, as I noted yesterday, appears to be playing "Game Number Two" while the rest of the world is somewhere in the Game Number One camp.

With one notable exception: China.

If one follows the Chinese government's policies over the years, one is met with...ambivalence. To be sure, China is more pro- than anti-GMOs. After all, it has in excess of a billion people to feed, and much of its land might be productive with genetically modified plants. Chinese scientific institutions have been studying them for years. But occasionally one also hears cautionary notes from China.

And that brings us to Mr. Trump's tariffs. Recently the Trump administration slapped some tariffs on China, and in this article, shared by Mr. G.B., China has already indicated retaliation:

Here It Comes: China About To Launch "Tens Of Billions" More In Tariffs

What Mr. G.B. pointed out in his email to me, was one category of US exports to China that could be hard hit. Look closely at the following chart from the article:

According to the chart, American exports of aircraft to China, presumably largely  in the form of commercial liners, accounts for about 58% of China's total imports in that category. But in second place are "Seeds and fruits", which account for about 38% of that country's total imports in that category. It does not take much imagination to understand that most of that percentage is likely to be in the form of GMO seeds and crops. If Mr. Xi's government plans to make that category a component of its tariff restrictions, then this will hit the American, and potentially European, agribusiness where it lives. Why European? Because with the recent acquisition by Germany's Bayer of the USA's Mon(ster)santo, the world's largest agribusiness company spans the Atlantic, calling to mind another great German chemicals cartel from yesteryear: I.G. Farben, which is why we call the whole GMO industry I.G. Farbensanto, A.G.

China will not, of course, give up its own domestic GMO research, but it will have to find another reliable food supplier in the meantime if indeed "Seeds and Fruits" are on Mr. Xi's tariffs list. And with Mr. Putin's non-GMO Russian agriculture, one can expect a new and tighter relationship to develop between those countries, with heavy Chinese investment in the expansion of Russian agriculture. Similarly, it will have to look to its BRICSA bloc partners, in particular, Brazil, and potentially Argentina, and hence one may expect new rounds of negotiations with  those countries as well. And then there's always Africa, where China's presence and influence is growing...

See you on the flip side...