Russia, GMO and the Geopolitics of Organic
New Eastern Outlook
Russia’s RT reported in an article titled, “Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev,” that, “Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.” The article would quote Russia’s prime minister who stated specifically, “if the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.”
The article would also state that products in Russia containing more than 0.9% genetically modified ingredients must be labeled, as opposed to US laws where no labeling is required for genetically modified products despite steadily growing public opposition to the practice.
Russia’s stance against GMO is mirrored elsewhere, including in France where just recently Monsanto’s GM corn was banned and in China where the importing of US GM corn has been outlawed. The backlash against GMO has widespread appeal due to well-placed health and environmental concerns among increasingly informed populations. But the drive to push back against GMO in nations like Russia and China also has a geopolitical dimension.
An Army Marches on Its Stomach
The biotechnology from which genetically modified organisms are derived, is currently monopolized by a handful of very powerful multinational corporations centered in the West. This monopoly forms (in part) the foundation of Western hegemonic power. As seen in Afghanistan, big-ag monopolies like Monsanto played a pivotal role in the attempted corporate colonization of the South Asian nation. Corporate interests and technology, coupled with Western aid organizations, backed by NATO’s military force, helped transform Afghanistan’s agricultural landscape through the systematic poisoning of traditional crops and their replacement with genetically modified soybeans (a crop previously alien to Afghan agriculture and cuisine).
The roots Monsanto sank into Afghanistan will be deep and lasting. Farmers dependent on patented genetically modified soybeans will be dependent on Monsanto and other Western biotech/big-ag giants indefinitely, and in turn, so will the people who depend on those farmers for daily sustenance. The very sovereignty of Afghanistan as an independent nation has been undermined at the most basic and fundamental level, its food security which now resides in the hands of foreigners.
It is clear then that nations like Russia, China, and others are not only responding to growing concern from among their populations regarding the safety and environmental impact of GMO products, but the threat this monopolized technology poses toward each respective nation’s food supply and consequently, their sovereignty.
Recent sanctions aimed at Russia in the West’s bid to cement regime change in neighboring Ukraine illustrates perfectly just how potentially damaging absolute dependence on Western big-ag corporations can be. Had Russian agriculture been more dependent on Western GMOs, and had the West’s sanctions been across a wider or full spectrum as they are against nations like Iran, the potential survival of Russia’s population could have been put at risk and foreign-backed political instability able to threaten Moscow easily achieved.
Each Nation a Castle
Sanctions against Iran have forced the nation to become self-sufficient across a wide spectrum of socioeconomic activity including food production, technological research and development, and weapons development. While the sanctions the West aims at Iran are designed to act as a modern form of siege warfare practiced at a national level, weakening the nation and ultimately contributing to its collapse, they have instead made Iran more resilient.
Iran has become a proverbial “castle,” weathering the siege by breaking it in some places, and undermining it with self-sufficient economic activity within its borders in other places. Nations like Russia and China, directly confronted by a West openly attempting to encircle both with specified alliances and strategies (NATO and the “pivot toward Asia” respectively), must likewise ensure independence and self-sufficiency across a wide range of socioeconomic activity, with fundamental necessities like food security taking priority.
Organic farming augmented by modern technology, as suggested by Prime Minister Medvedev has the power to ensure food security for Russia now and well into the future. With growing global demand for healthier, GMO-free food, a national policy leaning toward organic could eventually become an economic advantage beyond Russia’s borders. Other nations, communities, and indeed individuals around the world should look at this basic first step, securing one’s food supply, and understand how it is the key to national, local, and individual sovereignty, as well as a means toward enhancing economic prospects.
The West’s mega agricultural monopolies seek to infiltrate and overrun national food supplies worldwide, while it aims crippling sanctions at nations it seeks to influence or control geopolitically. A nation made dependent on the West’s mega agricultural monopolies, if ever targeted by sanctions or other means to undermine and overthrow its existing political order, will be particularly vulnerable. Thus, going organic is not just a means to keep a nation’s population healthy and therefore more productive, but also a fundamental means to protect national sovereignty.
The shortsighted benefits in terms of payoffs from mega agricultural monopolies governments around the world may be tempted by today, might be the leverage used by the West tomorrow to uproot them when their utility is perceived by the West to be exhausted, and new leadership is desired. For nations that believe in the merits of GMO, their people should demand that such technology be developed, implemented, regulated, and monitored indigenously, preempting the multitude of dangers the foreign domination of their food supply poses.
Ulson Gunnar is a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”