In 1996 Argentina adopted genetically modified (GM) soybeans as a central part of its national development strategy. Today, Argentina is the third largest global grower and exporter of GM crops. Its soybeans—which have been modified to tolerate being sprayed with herbicides—now cover half of the country's arable land and represent a third of its total exports. While soy has brought about modernization and economic growth, it has also created tremendous social and ecological harm: rural displacement, concentration of landownership, food insecurity, deforestation, violence, and the negative health effects of toxic agrochemical exposure.
In Seeds of Power: Environmental Injustice and Genetically Modified Soybeans in Argentina (Duke UP, 2020), Amalia Leguizamón explores why Argentines largely support GM soy despite the widespread damage it creates. She reveals how agribusiness, the state, and their allies in the media and sciences deploy narratives of economic redistribution, scientific expertise, and national identity as a way to elicit compliance among the country’s most vulnerable rural residents. In this way, Leguizamón demonstrates that GM soy operates as a tool of power to obtain consent, to legitimate injustice, and to quell potential dissent in the face of environmental and social violence.
Stentor Danielson is an associate professor in the Department of Geography, Geology, and the Environment at Slippery Rock University.