Agriculture and nation making in Argentina: “Climate smart wheat” Vs. “Hands off our bread!”

Authors: Daniela A Marini*, Grand Valley State University
Topics: Cultural and Political Ecology, Human-Environment Geography, Political Geography
Keywords: resource nationalism, genetically modified crops, soy, wheat, toxicity
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/7/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 26
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Responding to Koch and Perreault’s (2019) provocation to advance a sharper account of the multiple ways in which different actors think about resources within a state territory, this paper engages with the expansion of genetically modified (GM) crops in Argentina. Argentine resource nationalism is rooted in the nation’s iconic landscape: the central temperate plains of the Pampas. From bewildering treeless plains to the source of national richness in the form of cattle ranching and sprawling soybeans, the Pampas’ soil was made and remade to create space for export-oriented agriculture. National soy growers’ associations successfully installed the idea that what is good for agribusiness is good for the country, equating agribusiness with the nation (Lapegna 2016) while consolidating biotechnology as a socially desirable technology (Hernández 2007). On October 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture approved the commercialization of transgenic wheat resistant to drought developed by a national biotechnology company. Agribusiness actors boast the fact that the country is the first one in the world to adopt a drought tolerant technology for wheat. Civil society groups’ (long opposed to GM crops widespread health impacts of pesticide drift from soy fields contaminating the national body) now claim “hands off our bread!” In this paper, I argue that to maintain resource nationalism based on the cultivation of GM crops, state and non-state actors stress the benefits of nationally developed biotechnology in terms of ‘climate change smart agriculture’ while deliberately downplaying the health impacts of the herbicides used to cultivate these crops.

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