Special Issue on Agribusiness now available in Spanish!

Special Issue on Agribusiness now available in Spanish!

For the first time, Alternautas is proud to present an updated version of the special issue on “Agribusiness, (Neo)Extractivism and Food Sovereignty: Latin America at a Crossroads?”, which includes a Spanish translation of all the articles included to facilitate the distribution, collaboration and knowledge-sharing in Latin America beyond language barriers. We thank the authors and collaborators in assisting with the translation process.

Por primera vez, Alternautas se enorgullece en presentar una versión actualizada del Special Issue sobre “Agronegocios, (Neo)Extractivismo y Soberania Alimentaria: América Latina en la Encrucijada?”, que incluye una traducción en español de todos los artículos publicados originalmente, esperando que permíta la colaboración, distribución y el intercambio de conocimientos en América Latina, atravesando barreras de lenguaje. Agradecemos muy especialmente a los autores y colaboradores por la asistencia en el proceso de traducción.

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A new Issue of Alternautas is now available!

A new Issue of Alternautas is now available!

In the second half of 2017, Alternautas was devoted to developing a Special Issue entitled 'Agribusiness, (Neo)Extractivism and Food Sovereignty: Latin America at a Crossroads?'.  More than ever, the fields of Latin America have become conceptual and direct battlefields, where ideological, economic, political and cultural positions clash. The expansion of the agroindustrial frontier, fuelled by technological advances in genetically modified crops and the large-scale use of pesticides and fertilisers, is one aspect of the intensification of extractivist activities that have dominated the region’s recent political economic model, further increasing tensions surrounding environmental issues and land use (e.g. Gudynas 2013, North and Grinspun 2016, Svampa and Viale 2014, Svampa 2015). Counterbalancing the advances of industrial agriculture, some rural communities and environmentalist groups have sought to promote and strengthen alternative agricultural models through practices as diverse as polycropping, seed saving, agroecology schools and judicial resistance.

The papers in this special issue, published between August and December 2017, have explored some of the tensions, changes and conflicts arising from the expansion of agribusiness as the dominant mode of accumulation and food production in the region. They evidence – based on original research – on the multiplicity of mechanisms through which agribusiness has transformed the social, political, economic and environmental landscape of the region. Not only do these contributions cover a wide range of topics that demonstrate the extent the agribusiness mode of production’s advancement – including educational programmes, the role of science and international initiatives, and seed sovereignty struggles – but the diverse disciplinary backgrounds and methodological approaches of the authors also offers a very rich analytical focus.

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Control, Utility and Formalization at the "Frontier": Contested Discourses on Agriculture in Eastern Colombia

 Control, Utility and Formalization at the "Frontier": Contested Discourses on Agriculture in Eastern Colombia

By Alke Jenss

This article explores the deep transformation of the Altillanura region in Colombia, where the expansion of the agricultural frontier has brought to light the dynamics of the ‘economies of dispossession and land appropriation’ (Jenss, 2017, this issue) that underpin the extractive model dominating Colombian development. Alke offers an overview of the principal mechanisms through which these dynamics are expressed, particularly the expansion of new ‘Economic Zones’ of production and the growth of large-scale plantations which are institutionalised through the pervasive development plans and legislation. The tensions around traditional forms of land tenure and the necessity to offer ‘clear’ property rights to encourage investments in the Altillanura region clearly demonstrate the key tensions in the region, where small farmers and indigenous communities’ clash with large transnational corporations over the expansion of the agricultural frontier.

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IWRM and the legacies of large-scale agriculture in the Peruvian Amazon

IWRM and the legacies of large-scale agriculture in the Peruvian Amazon

BY GISELLE VILA BENITES

The advancement of agribusiness in Latin America has created environmental strains and les to increasing conflicts with local based economies dependent on small scale agriculture. Among the efforts to halt its negative effects, new models of resource governance emerged aiming to integrate stakeholders and users into accountable organisations. This article reviews the attempt to impose Integrated water resources management (IWRM) over the water governance arrangements of a native community in the Peruvian Amazon that faces an increasing intervention of rice agribusiness in their lands. The resulting dynamic can be understood as an altered arrangement: it doesn’t lead to the creation of an IWRM institution, nor does it reject new governance architectures. The rescaling of water governance, the interpretation of IWRM meanings and the contingency of the results, all within the frame of a history of agricultural development interventions in indigenous lands, helps us understand this phenomenon..

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¿Y si no en Habana? Landless science, peasant struggle, and capitalist development in Colombia

¿Y si no en Habana? Landless science, peasant struggle, and capitalist development in Colombia

BY ALEXANDER LIEBMAN AND HENRY A. PELLER

On November 30th 2016, the Colombian government and FARC signed a peace agreement despite its narrow rejection in a national plebiscite two months earlier. The Havana Accords promise to end five decades of civil war. Among the FARC’s central objectives in the negotiations was agrarian reform. This, in order to resolve the highest land inequity in the Western Hemisphere and the accumulated centuries of violent injustice onto the rural poor. About 80% of agricultural land in Colombia is concentrated among 14% of landowners (USAID 2010). Land is most often used for export production and extensive cattle production. From the Andean highlands to the Eastern Plains, cattle dominate the landscape, occupying 80% of agricultural land, often the most productive areas. Another 40% of Colombian territory is under contract with multinational productions for agriculture, forestry, or mining export (OXFAM 2013). Inequality of land access is also borne unequally across race and gender – Afro-Colombians and women facing the highest levels of internal displacement due to rural conflict and agri-business land accumulation (Gomez 2012).

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The imperial rationality within BioTrade: A contribution to the neoextractivist debate

The imperial rationality within BioTrade: A contribution to the neoextractivist debate

By Jonas Köppel

This article addresses a recent debate on neoextractivism in Latin America by presenting ethnographic research on BioTrade in Peru. While biodiversity conservation is usually not associated with extractivist projects, such as open-pit mining or industrial monocultures, the case study on Sacha Inchi presented here reveals the same basic patterns of resource extraction: a logic that places the requirements of global markets over local realities; that chooses the needs of exporting firms over the concerns of the rural populations; and that favors the perspective of the capital over that of its hinterland. The findings lead the author to interpret BioTrade, in this case, as a form of neoextractivism. It claims to pursue goals of social equity and environmental sustainability, while in practice adopting the same imperial rationality as the century-old extractivist project, characteristic for Latin America. Thus, this article contributes to the debate by reminding of the social, or “cultural”, preconditions for (neo)extractivism, namely the “coloniality of power” (Quijano, 1992), and thus the construction, subordination, and exploitation of the Other. In a post-structural reading it suggests that, in the contemporary arena of sustainable development, the neoliberal rationality constitutes a mechanism that reproduces colonial lines of social differentiation by creating difference along the lines of the ability to live up to its emblematic figure of the entrepreneur.

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Por una Vida Digna: Science as Technique of Power and Mode of Resistance in Argentina

Por una Vida Digna: Science as Technique of Power and Mode of Resistance in Argentina

By Ingrid Elísabet Feeney-McCandless

Two decades after the approval of the use of GMO seeds in Argentina, the devastating consequences of the use of agro-chemicals linked to genetically modified seeds are becoming painfully clear. Rural populations are increasingly becoming aware of the dreadful environmental and health impacts of the use of the ‘technological package’ that has fuelled the expansion of Argentina’s agribusiness. Importantly, this paper provides an insight into how this growing awareness has become translated into greater community organisation across the country, with the aim of not only questioning the implementation of the current agribusiness model, but also the different ways in which these practices are legitimised. Her analysis of the movement for a Ciencia Digna (‘a dignified science’) demonstrates the epistemological battles that are fought in the everyday resistance organised by these communities. 

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Security and Safety in the Glyphosate Debate: a Chemical Cocktail for Discussion

Security and Safety in the Glyphosate Debate: a Chemical Cocktail for Discussion

By Diego Silva

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) released on the 20th of March 2015 in Lyon (France) a controversial report stating that glyphosate, the world’s most widely used herbicide, is probably carcinogenic for humans. The use of the word “probably” is meant to clarify that although there is a positive correlation between exposure to the chemical agent and cancer, other explanations (such as chance, bias, or confounding) could not be fully ruled out (International Agency for Research on Cancer 2015). While the debate triggered by this report has revolved around the agricultural uses of glyphosate at the international level, in Colombia the debate has been associated with the use of glyphosate to eliminate one of the main financial sources of insurgent groups: cocaine crops. Moreover, while the use of glyphosate in Colombia was banned for the eradication of illegal crops shortly after the release of the WHO report, its use remains unproblematic as a strategy of crop management for legal agricultural crops. How can these different responses to the evidence presented in the WHO report on glyphosate be explained?

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Seed Sovereignty Struggles in an Emberá-Chamí Community in Colombia

Seed Sovereignty Struggles in an Emberá-Chamí Community in Colombia

BY LAURA GUTIÉRREZ ESCOBAR

Laura Gutierrez’ article takes us to Riosucio, in the North West of Colombia, where the Embera-Chami indigenous people of the region have organised to promote and protect their agricultural sovereignty. Laura examines the intricacies of the seed conflicts that take place in this country, where the government and industrial agriculture associations have promoted the use of certified seeds, while Embera-Chami communities have challenged this system through the development of their own networks of seed saving, multiplication, and reproduction. These conflicts constitute struggles over seed sovereignty, that is, over the way seeds are produced, owned, circulated, saved, and endowed with meanings and spirituality. However, these struggles reveal a larger battle over autonomy and place-based ways of inhabiting and sustaining territory. These conflicts are the manifestation of the coloniality of power that continues to promote Euro-American models and knowledges as superior, and Latin American agricultural and botanical knowledges as inferior. The seed, as a living organism that interacts with humans, and as a recipient of cultural, symbolic, and economic values, is at the core of the struggle between colonialism and local resistance, and thus serves as a lens through which these conflicts can be analysed.

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Reclaiming the Food System: Agroecological Pedagogy and the IALA María Cano

Reclaiming the Food System: Agroecological Pedagogy and the IALA María Cano

By Jaskiran Kaur Chohan 

Industrial agriculture has been one of the key contributors to global warming and consequent climate disasters worldwide. In 2014, 44-57% of global greenhouse gas emissions were produced by industrial food production; principally from deforestation, transportation of products, their processing and refrigeration (GRAIN, 2014). This paper will focus on the case of the Instituto Agroecologico Latinoamericano (IALA) María Cano in Colombia, which aims to use knowledge as resistance in an epistemo-political struggle against industrialised agriculture. The piece will theoretically outline the phenomenon of industrial agriculture, the impact this has on societies and ecologies, as well as the overarching epistemologies that maintain this.

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Introduction to the Special Issue: Agribusiness, (Neo)Extractivism and Food Sovereignty: Latin America at a Crossroads?

Introduction to the Special Issue: Agribusiness, (Neo)Extractivism and Food Sovereignty: Latin America at a Crossroads?

By Ana Estefanía Carballo, María Eugenia Giraudo, Diego Silva and Johannes Waldmueller

In Latin America’s history, the agricultural sector has played a pivotal role for each period’s form of economic, social and political development. The papers in this special issue explore some of the tensions, changes and conflicts arising from the expansion of agribusiness as the dominant mode of accumulation and food production in the region. This issue presents evidence – based on original research – on the multiplicity of mechanisms through which agribusiness has transformed the social, political, economic and environmental landscape of the region.

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