International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Climate-ready Crops and Bio-capitalism: Towards a New Food Regime?

International Journal of Sociology of Agriculture and Food

Volume 18, issue 3 (2011), pages 260-274

Authors: Elisabeth A. Abergel

ISSN: 0798-1759


The relationship between climate change (CC) and the potential for transition to a new food regime can be analyzed through the development of Climate Ready crops, which aim to provide a solution to the problems facing food production in the future. Using a bio-capitalist approach, this analysis focuses on the ways in which corporate actors and others map out and frame the challenges posed by CC in technoscientific and biophysical terms and potentially impact agri-food systems. Thus, the debates surrounding the future of food production and the challenges of CC, for this article, are analysed through the lens of bio-capitalism and the concept of food regimes to assess the limitations and potential consequences of biotechnological adaptation strategies for agricultural sustainability. This approach views biotechnology as one of the productive forces of capitalism, which attempts to produce surplus value from living systems in ways that ensure the continued accumulation of wealth through not only commodity forms but also their legal appropriation and control through Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs), mostly through the reproductive control of plants and animals used in agricultural production. The practical limitations of this adaptation strategy are explored from a bio-capitalist perspective to analyse how technoscientific interventions in the context of CC are organizing local and global forms of social and biological exclusion and inclusion, and how these exclusions challenge the global food economy. The difficulties and unevenness presented by global climate change reinforce the idea that new regimes of food production, which aim to work within the complexity and resilience of specific ecosystems, are needed. This stands in opposition to the current productivist paradigm. This article considers how global climate change exposes the weakness of biotechnological solutions, which in turn are creating the conditions for the emergence of a neo-productivist regime.

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