Generics rule? Struggles over pesticide regulation in Costa Rica

Authors: Maria Castro Vargas*, ICTA/ Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Marion Werner*, University at Buffalo, SUNY
Topics: Latin America, Cultural and Political Ecology, Food Systems
Keywords: Uneven development, socionatures, regulation
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 42
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Recent restructuring in the pesticide industry reveals emerging geographies of uneven development. While much attention has been given to the consolidation of four multinational conglomerates (ChemChina/Syngenta Group, Bayer (Monsanto), BASF and Corteva Agriscience), generic multinationals have gained significant market share in this process as middle-income countries shift their positions from primarily importers to producers and exporters. This paper explores how these global-scale changes are playing out in the Costa Rican context. Not only does the country remain one of the most pesticide-intensive users in the world, but Costa Rica is also a regional hub of generic pesticide production and export. Together with Maria Soledad Castro (ICTA-UAB), we build on previous work (Jansen 2017; Galt 2014) to consider two related questions: 1) Are global-scale transformations of the agrochemical industry changing the regulatory context as generic firms from middle-income countries become more prominent? And 2) how is the ecologista movement adapting its strategies and intervening in this already-dynamic regulatory landscape? We answer these questions through an analysis of regulatory struggles over the country’s pesticide registry. Our findings will contribute to advancing political ecology and allied fields’ understandings of “off-farm” capital (Galt 2014) in the global South and how these interests are shaping chemical-intensive agricultural development and the possibilities for contestation.

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