Soy, Globalization, and Environmental Politics in South America: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Soy, Globalization, and Environmental Politics in South America

1st Edition

Edited by Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira, Susanna B. Hecht


368 pages

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Soy in South America constitutes one of the most spectacular booms of agro-industrial commodity production in the world. It is the pinnacle of modernist agro-industrial practices, serving as a key nexus in food–feed–fuel production that underpins the agribusiness–conservationist discourse of "land sparing" through intensification. Yet soy production is implicated in multiple problems beyond deforestation, ranging from pesticide drift and contamination to social exclusion and conflicts in frontier zones, to concentration of wealth and income among the largest landowners and corporations. This book explores in depth the complex dynamics of soy production from its diverse social settings to its transnational connections, examining the politics of commodity and knowledge production, the role of the state, and the reach of corporate power in everyday life across soy landscapes in South America. Ultimately, the collection encourages us to search and struggle for agroecological alternatives through which we may overcome the pitfalls of this massive transnational capitalist agro-industry.

This book was originally published as a special issue of The Journal of Peasant Studies.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sacred groves, sacrifice zones and soy production: globalization, intensification and neo-nature in South America

Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira and Susanna Hecht

1. Strategies and hybrid dynamics of soy transnational companies in the Southern Cone


Valdemar João Wesz Jr

2. Disappearing nature? Agribusiness, biotechnology and distance in Argentine soybean


Amalia Leguizamón

3. Which territorial embeddedness? Territorial relationships of recently internationalized firms

of the soybean chain

Clara Craviotti

4. The geopolitics of Brazilian soybeans

Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira

5. China’s soybean crisis: the logic of modernization and its discontents

Yan Hairong, Chen Yiyuan and Ku Hok Bun

6. Different farming styles behind the homogenous soy production in southern Brazil

Bert Vander Vennet, Sergio Schneider and Joost Dessein

7. Soybean agri-food systems dynamics and the diversity of farming styles on the agricultural

frontier in Mato Grosso, Brazil

Mateo Mier y Terán Giménez Cacho

8. Farming is easy, becoming Brazilian is hard: North American soy farmers’ social values of

production, work and land in Soylandia

Andrew Ofstehage

9. Green for gold: social and ecological tradeoffs influencing the sustainability of the Brazilian

soy industry

Rachael D. Garrett and Lisa L. Rausch

10. On the margins of soy farms: traditional populations and selective environmental policies in the Brazilian Cerrado

Ludivine Eloy, Catherine Aubertin, Fabiano Toni, Silvia Laine Borges Lúcio and Marion


11. Genetically modified soybeans, agrochemical exposure, and everyday forms of peasant

collaboration in Argentina

Pablo Lapegna

12. ‘More soy on fewer farms’ in Paraguay: challenging neoliberal agriculture’s claims to


Laureen Elgert

13. The moving frontiers of genetically modified soy production: shifts in land control in the

Argentinian Chaco

Lucía Goldfarb and Gemma van der Haar

14. Bolivia’s soy complex: the development of ‘productive exclusion’

Ben McKay and Gonzalo Colque

About the Editors

Gustavo de L. T. Oliveira is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at University of California, Berkeley, USA. His dissertation analyses the political ecology of Chinese investments in Brazilian agribusiness and logistics infrastructure. He is a member of the BRICS Initiative for Critical Agrarian Studies.

Susanna B. Hecht is Professor in the Luskin School of Public Affairs and the Institute of the Environment at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), USA, and Professor of International History at the Graduate School of International Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland. She is the author or editor of more than 16 books and numerous articles on the political ecology of tropical forests. Her book on Amazonian environmental history The Scramble for the Amazon and the Lost Paradise of Euclides da Cunha won the Melville Prize from the American Historical Association, and the Carl Sauer Award in Geography.

About the Series

Critical Agrarian Studies

Critical Agrarian Studies is the new accompanying book series to the Journal of Peasant Studies. It publishes selected special issues of the journal and, occasionally, books that offer major contributions in the field of critical agrarian studies. The book series builds on the long and rich history of the journal and its former accompanying book series, the Library of Peasant Studies (1973-2008) which had published several important monographs and special-issues-as-books.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / General