02 February 2011

Will quinoa farmers adapt? And, Du Pont and Pioneer accused of using slave labor in Argentina

Last week I wrote about a story which said that the change in weather patterns in Bolivia are affecting quinoa production this year.  I just read another story, published in December, that explained how local agronomists are recommending farmers to change their planting times in order to adapt to the new patterns.  In Science and Technology studies this is called adaptation, in brief, when one cannot change the conditions, one must change the response.  So, in light of the fact that the farmers can't change the weather, they are being told to change their farming practices.  This, of course, makes a lot of sense at first hand, but how can it be practically implemented.  This initiative would have to be explained to 50,000 farming families in Bolivia and adapted to the different circumstances of each farmer.  Even if that's possible and if farmers accept without doubt the teachings of the agronomists, we are left with the fact that no one truly knows how to predict the rains since the patterns have changed.  This really demonstrates the complexity of farming, the complexity and pitfalls of agricultural extension, and the precariousness of farming on the Altiplano of Bolivia.


In other news, Dupont and it's affiliate Pioneer, have been accused of using slave labor on its farms in Argentina. They are also accused of tax evasion and have been fined by the government of Argentina.  Is this an externality or consequence of the global market system?


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