Ukraine has always been a powerhouse of agriculture, it’s been called the breadbasket of Europe.
The rich soil and its endless plains make it one of the best regions in the world for growing wheat and barley.
About 30% of the world’s black topsoil is in Ukraine, this makes arable land Ukraine’s main treasure, far outweighing the gas, coal and other deposits the country can boast. (Ukraine has 32 million hectares of of arable land, that is one third of the total area of arable land that the whole European union has)
The black soil in Ukraine is called “chornozem”, it is the highest quality of fertile soil in the world, containing 7% to 15% of humus. The chornozem covers 54% of Ukrainian farmland.
This enables Ukraine with its relatively small size to be the worlds sixth largest grain exporter and the world’s third largest corn exporter.
Detailed analysis of Ukraine’s agriculture sector can be found here.
Although GMO produce was initially tolerated, since 2007 the regulation of GMO products was getting tighter – effectively discouraging GMO and making labelling mandatory.
A closer look at exactly how this translated into numbers we can see in this article from march 2012:
“in 2007 about 50% of products in the Ukraine market contained a GMO, while in 2008 this number had reduced to 8%. Now in the Ukraine only 5% of all products contain GMOs” (2012)
“U.S. and Canada strongly oppose the new definition because effect of the new rule would reduce the export of products with a share of less than 0.9% GMO in Ukraine from these countries by 90%.”
One of the biggest factors in the deadly protests that led to the ousting of pres. Yanukovich was the rejection of a European association agreement that was tied to a $17 Billion loan from the IMF.
A closer look at the agreement reveals that it includes a clause (Article 404) that commits both parties to cooperate to “extend the use of biotechnologies” within the country.
This clause is surprising given that most European consumers reject GM crops. However, it creates an opening to bring GM products into Europe, an opportunity sought after by large agro-seed companies such as Monsanto.
The installing of a pro-Western government in Ukraine has also been going hand in hand with vast acquisitions of Ukrainian farmland by companies like Monsanto, Cargill and DuPont. (1.6 million hectares signed over to foreign companies in recent years)
Western corporations have not just taken control of certain profitable agribusinesses and agricultural activities, they have now initiated a vertical integration of the agricultural sector and extended their grip on infrastructure and shipping.
All aspects of Ukraine’s agricultural supply chain – from the production of seeds and other agricultural inputs to the actual shipment of commodities out of the country – are thus increasingly controlled by Western firms.
It looks after all that there is a lot of money to be gained from the Ukrainian conflict…
…… Just not for Ukrainians
Author: P. Dever is a freelance journalist and political activist he is a regular contributor to the South Front project.