Date of Degree

2-2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Sociology

Advisor(s)

Kenneth A. Gould

Subject Categories

Environmental Sciences | Latin American Languages and Societies | Latin American Studies | Sociology

Keywords

Argentina, Development studies, GM biotechnology, Health and environmental sciences, Natural resource extraction, Technology and social change

Abstract

This dissertation is a case study of agrarian transformation in an agro-export society, Argentina. I study the process of adoption of the technological package of genetically modified (GM) soy in the Argentine countryside, its socio-ecological consequences, and Argentines' responses to it. In particular, this research addresses Argentina's unique situation of being a developing country that has positively embraced the biotechnology of GM seeds as a key accumulation strategy without the emergence of major contestation against GM soy monocropping. In order to answer the puzzle of quiescence, I look at how power relations structure access to social and environmental goods and bads, as well as at how power relates to the causes of consensus and conflict. From a critical political economy perspective, in this work I contribute to three major areas of substantive research: (1) Technology and socio-environmental change; (2) Natural resource extraction as a model of neoliberal socioeconomic development for Latin America; and (3) Social movements, in particular rural and environmental movements in the Latin American region. It terms of data collection, I rely on a multi-method approach based on archival research, quantitative analysis, and ethnographic methods (interviewing and participant observation).

Whether GM crops can alleviate poverty and address food security while conserving ecosystems remains one of the most divisive questions in contemporary development studies. This dissertation is thus a necessary and timely contribution to debates on agricultural GM biotechnology. More broadly, the aim of this research is to contribute to discussions around the dynamics of agrarian and rural transformations, technological adoption and resistance, and the relationship between ecological modification and social change.

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