Against ‘monocultures’ in agriculture and knowledge

Faced with the undeniable fact of hunger in developing countries, ‘sustainable intensification’ has been claimed as a science-led solution to food security. In an article for SciDev.Net, Prof Brian Wynne (Lancaster University) and Georgina Catacora (GenØk) tear strips off the large-scale industrial model of agriculture that is supposed to feed the world, and the narrow visions of science that underlie it.

Science is used as an ideological tool to promote some technologies (such as GM) while neglecting others. In some cases, the social impacts of industrial agriculture (displacement, land grabbing etc) are left out of the equation; in others, diverse approaches are simply ignored, and food security is seen simply as a technical issue of production.

The challenge of highlighting alternative pathways in agriculture is no small one. Huge financial interests are invested in pursuing intensive industrial agriculture at the expense of small-scale farming. Opponents are accused of being anti-science and romanticising poverty. But a narrow industrial technical view of science does no justice to the variety of scientific and social approaches to feeding the world and supporting farmers’ livelihoods.

This article was originally posted on the The Crossing.

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