Why is much modern food of inferior quality? Why is health suffering and smallholder farmers who feed most of the world being forced out of agriculture?
Mainly because of the mindset of the likes of Larry Fink of BlackRock – the world’s biggest asset management firm – and the economic system they profit from and promote.
In 2011, Fink said agricultural and water investments would be the best performers over the next 10 years.
“Go long agriculture and water and go to the beach.”
Unsurprisingly then, just three years later, in 2014, the Oakland Institute found that institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, were capitalising on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class.
Funds tend to invest for a 10-15-year period, resulting in good returns for investors but often cause long-term environmental and social devastation. They undermine local and regional food security through buying up land and entrenching an industrial, export-oriented model of agriculture.
In September 2020, Grain.org showed that private equity funds – pools of money that use pension funds, sovereign wealth funds, endowment funds and investments from governments, banks, insurance companies and high net worth individuals – were being injected into the agriculture sector throughout the world.
This money was being used to lease or buy up farms on the cheap and aggregate them into large-scale, US-style grain and soybean concerns. Offshore tax havens and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development had targeted Ukraine in particular.
Western agribusiness had been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time. That country contains one third of all arable land in Europe. A 2015 article by Oriental Review noted that, since the mid-90s, Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council have been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.
In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds.
In June 2020, the IMF approved an 18-month, strings-attached $5 billion loan programme with Ukraine.
Even before the conflict, the World Bank incorporated measures relating to the sale of public agricultural land as conditions in a $350 million Development Policy Loan (COVID ‘relief package’) to Ukraine. This included a required ‘prior action’ to “enable the sale of agricultural land and the use of land as collateral.”
It is interesting to note that Larry Fink and BlackRock are to ‘coordinate’ investment in ‘rebuilding’ Ukraine.