** With apologies for cross-posting **


*Call for Papers:* American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting (AAG)
2020, April 6-10, Denver, CO, USA.

*Session Title:* Geographies of the bioeconomy: Agricultural commodity
chains, agrichemicals and uneven development

*Session Organizers:* Christian Berndt (University of Zurich), Marion
Werner (University at Buffalo, SUNY), Becky Mansfield (Ohio State

The biotech revolution in agriculture – including GMO seeds, intensive
pesticide and fertilizer use, and digital platform technologies – is
transforming agrifood production in increasingly dramatic and uneven ways.
Long considered the domain of industrial agriculture in the Global North,
the biotech-agrifood complex is undergoing important geographical shifts
that throw into question the long-standing directionality of agrifood
commodity chains analyzed in economic geography, political ecology, and
environmental studies. In addition to the rollout of advanced production
technologies (e.g. digitalization) in key southern countries, Global South
agribusiness corporations are playing larger roles in the global
production, trade and use of pesticides, fertilizers and other advanced
technology inputs. These sociospatial shifts occur in tandem with major
institutional restructuring of top-tier firms, evidenced by the mergers of
Syngenta with ChemChina, Bayer with Monsanto, and Dow with Dupont in just
the past five years.  A “double movement” reaction to unprecendented
corporate consolidation and chemical intensivity is underway as regulatory
struggles break out unevenly over a multiscalar field. Consumers, workers,
and scientists are challenging not only the use of known toxic pesticides,
but also the legitimacy of the State to determine the safety of pesticides,
biologicals and other inputs under monopoly corporate conditions.  Beyond
these struggles in North America, Europe, India, Argentina, and elsewhere,
China is pursuing an aggressive policy of upgrading in the agrichemical
industry, while mainstream development agencies and their philanthropic
partners are seeking to extend the biotech-agrifood complex to smallholders
under the sign of ‘climate-smart agriculture.’

Inspired by recent work on south-south value chains (e.g., Horner and Nadvi
2018), commodity chain socionatures (Bakker and Bridge 2006; Baglioni and
Campling 2017), the political ecology of industry (Huber 2017) and off-farm
capital (Galt 2014), and emergent research on the racial, gendered and
colonial constituents of “chemical geographies” (Romero et al. 2017;
Mansfield 2018; Williams 2019), this panel seeks to foster critical
conversations on the chemicalization and digitalization of global
agriculture. We are motivated by a concern for the uneven geographical
distribution of the social and ecological gains and costs of agribiotech,
as well as its intrinsic limits (e.g., incalcitrant socionatures, depletion
of ecological surpluses) and social resistance. Who profits from the
ongoing transformation of agrichemical commodity chains? How are profits
distributed and captured? Who loses out in the uneven distribution of the
gains and burdens of the chemicalization of agriculture? How can we take
account of socionatural limits (e.g., ‘weed’ and ‘pest’ resistance to
biocides)  and human resistance? How to conceptualize the relationship
between the two? We welcome a range of papers that address one or more
aspects of the following themes:

§  *Human Labor/Development/Work of Nature:* How is the chemicalization of
agriculture affecting rural economies and ecologies? In what ways are new
production technologies implicated in the global land rush and the
dispossession of traditional peasants and farmers? What are the
implications for labor relations and rural natures? How is resistance
shaping labor relations and alternative agrochemical solutions?

§  *Global value chains, agrochemical commodities and de/marketization:*
What do global agrochemical commodity chains look like? What are the
regulatory, technological and social shifts that make agricultural input
markets work? What are the regulatory implications of the changing dynamics
of these global commodity chains? How can social movements and/or the state
intervene to (at a minimum) partially demarketize an increasingly
chemicalized and digitalized global agriculture?

§  *Toxicity, Exposure and Health: *How has the agrochemical industry
shaped regulatory knowledge about risk, health and agrochemical commodites?
What can be learnt about changing notions of risk and safety from the
recent, controversial debates in the US, Canada, Vietnam, India, Argentina,
Costa Rica, the European Union and (surely) elsewhere over chemicals such
as glyphosate and chlorpyrifos? How are these regulatory struggles
interacting with the changing geographies of agrichemical input commodity

Interested participants should send expressions of interest, questions
and/or an abstract of 250 words (maximum) to Christian Berndt (
christian.ber...@geo.uzh.ch) or Marion Werner (wern...@buffalo.edu) by *October
21, 2019*.

Works Cited

Baglioni, E., & Campling, L. (2017). Natural resource industries as global
value chains: Frontiers, fetishism, labour and the state. *Environment and
Planning A: Economy and Space, 49*(11), 2437-2456.

Bakker, K., & Bridge, G. (2006). Material worlds? Resource geographies and
the ‘matter of nature'. *Progress in Human Geography, 30*(1), 5-27.

Galt, R. E. (2014). *Food systems in an unequal world: Pesticides,
vegetables, and agrarian capitalism in Costa Rica*. Tucson: University of
Arizona Press.

Horner, R., & Nadvi, K. (2018). Global value chains and the rise of the
Global South: unpacking twenty-first century polycentric trade. *Global
Networks, 18*(2), 207-237. doi:10.1111/glob.12180

Huber, M. T. (2017). Hidden abodes: Industrializing political ecology. *Annals
of the American Association of Geographers, 107*(1), 151-166.

Mansfield, B. (2018). A New Biopolitics of Environmental Health: Permeable
Bodies and the Anthropocene. In T. Marsden (Ed.), *Sage Handbook of Nature*
(pp. 216-235). Los Angeles: Sage.

Romero, A. M., Guthman, J., Galt, R. E., Huber, M., Mansfield, B., &
Sawyer, S. (2017). Chemical Geographies. *GeoHumanities, 3*(1), 158-177.

Williams, B. (2018). “That we may live”: Pesticides, plantations, and
environmental racism in the United States South. *Environment and Planning
E: Nature and Space, 1*, 243-267. doi:10.1177/2514848618778085

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