As the conflict in Ukraine erupts, subsides, erupts, subsides, there seems to be one entity that cannot lose.
Biotech-giant Monsanto has an office in Ukraine. In 2013 a proposed $17-billion IMF loan to Ukraine would, as a condition, have opened up the country to genetically modified crops. But then-president Viktor Yanukovych rejected the European Union agreement linked to the loan, deciding to go with a Russian deal instead. Yanukovych didn’t last long – ousted in February 2014 – and the country descended into conflict.
A set-back for Monsanto? It seems not. The company is still pressing ahead with a $140-million non-GM corn seed factory in western Ukraine. And if the region sinks into all-out war, that is good for Monsanto too, says trader and investment analyst Brian Kelly. Conflict will constrict the wheat supply from ‘breadbasket’ Ukraine, forcing a big price hike. And when wheat prices rise, says Kelly, so does the share price of the world’s biggest supplier of seed – Monsanto. Meanwhile, influential pro-GM interests in several countries, including Britain and Australia, are pressing for a more ‘open-door’ policy towards genetically engineered crops and agri-giants like Monsanto. All the more reason for turning our attention to this most controversial and controlling of corporations – and the civil-society action against it that is spreading across the world.
Elsewhere in this month’s magazine, Bangladeshi photographer Jannatul Mawa struck upon the simple but ingenious idea of asking middle-class Dhaka dwellers to be photographed with their maids. The result is, well, revealing...
Vanessa Baird for the New Internationalist co-operative.