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Food, Technology, Power: Governing GMOs in Argentina Peter Newell

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Presentation on theme: "Food, Technology, Power: Governing GMOs in Argentina Peter Newell"— Presentation transcript:

1 Food, Technology, Power: Governing GMOs in Argentina Peter Newell

2 Global Politics of Biotech Contested risks and benefits: Environmental, social, developmental Contested risks and benefits: Environmental, social, developmental –Biosafety –Health –Pro-boor biotech? Issues of control and power over the technology Issues of control and power over the technology –IPRs –Social control over the technology –Who participates and on what/whose terms?

3 Aims Develop a political economy of biotech governance in Argentina by focussing on government-business relations in particular Develop a political economy of biotech governance in Argentina by focussing on government-business relations in particular To look at the organisation and mobilisation of corporate actors in this debate To look at the organisation and mobilisation of corporate actors in this debate Identify and explain the dimensions and expressions of their power in (i) material (ii) organisational and (iii) discursive terms Identify and explain the dimensions and expressions of their power in (i) material (ii) organisational and (iii) discursive terms Through 30 key informant interviews Through 30 key informant interviews Account for hegemony around acceptance and promotion of the technology Account for hegemony around acceptance and promotion of the technology

4 Contribution to debates Role of business in environmental governance: State-business relations in key global player Role of business in environmental governance: State-business relations in key global player Relationship between biotech and development: Who benefits and how? Relationship between biotech and development: Who benefits and how? Contributes to theories of the firm: Contributes to theories of the firm: –Linking corporate strategy with political roles –Exploring material, organisational and discursive forms of power

5 Why Argentina? Leading player in biotech globally and within Latin America Leading player in biotech globally and within Latin America Strategic role as gateway to Latin America and has much admired regulatory system Strategic role as gateway to Latin America and has much admired regulatory system Embraced the technology as export strategy rather than for food security potential Embraced the technology as export strategy rather than for food security potential Redistribution of wealth through taxation to finance national welfare plan: Different take on pro-poor biotech Redistribution of wealth through taxation to finance national welfare plan: Different take on pro-poor biotech

6 Overview of Biotechnology in Argentina Argentina is worlds 2 nd largest producer and exporter of GM crops Argentina is worlds 2 nd largest producer and exporter of GM crops Accounts for 23% of global production Accounts for 23% of global production Third largest exporter of soy in the world Third largest exporter of soy in the world GM soya makes up nearly 90% of the 12 million hectares of all soya planted GM soya makes up nearly 90% of the 12 million hectares of all soya planted 98% is exported as beans, animal feed and oil making up 20% of the countrys total exports 98% is exported as beans, animal feed and oil making up 20% of the countrys total exports

7 Key Debates Fact majority of production is for export, principally as animal feed, means Argentina has avoided much of the controversy that has erupted elsewhere Fact majority of production is for export, principally as animal feed, means Argentina has avoided much of the controversy that has erupted elsewhere Little focus on environmental impacts: economic merits of the technology attracted greater focus Little focus on environmental impacts: economic merits of the technology attracted greater focus Some debate about the risks associated with an intensive mono-crop strategy (vulnerability to pests, impact on soil quality, lack of diversity if market resistance develops) Some debate about the risks associated with an intensive mono-crop strategy (vulnerability to pests, impact on soil quality, lack of diversity if market resistance develops) Effectiveness of regulation: seed smuggling (soja maradona), IPR battles (Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, UK) Effectiveness of regulation: seed smuggling (soja maradona), IPR battles (Spain, Netherlands, Denmark, UK)

8 Enabling conditions for biotech take-off Strong state support for soy since the early 1970s: Educational programmes on health benefits of soy (INTA) Strong state support for soy since the early 1970s: Educational programmes on health benefits of soy (INTA) Neo-liberal agenda of Menem: re-organisation of seed sector, opening of the market, removal of taxes on agricultural exports. Neo-liberal agenda of Menem: re-organisation of seed sector, opening of the market, removal of taxes on agricultural exports. Concentration on crops of interest to major global players Concentration on crops of interest to major global players National firms and their commercial lines bought by MNCs, licensing agreements signed. National firms and their commercial lines bought by MNCs, licensing agreements signed. By late 1990s, Argentina had 2 nd largest seed market in Latin America. By late 1990s, Argentina had 2 nd largest seed market in Latin America. Siembra directa (no-till harvesting techniques), combined well with biotechnology with herbicide resistant soybeans. Siembra directa (no-till harvesting techniques), combined well with biotechnology with herbicide resistant soybeans. Grew from 4 to 15 million hectares between 1997 and 2002 (AAPRESID). Grew from 4 to 15 million hectares between 1997 and 2002 (AAPRESID).

9 Crisis as turning point December 2001, Argentina defaulted on its US$ 140 billion national debt devaluation December 2001, Argentina defaulted on its US$ 140 billion national debt devaluation Trader at time: The IMF should be very happy with us. Without agribusiness and oil, Argentina would never meet the surplus they are demanding Trader at time: The IMF should be very happy with us. Without agribusiness and oil, Argentina would never meet the surplus they are demanding Taxes on exports of GM soy used to subsidise internal markets for food (6% of all government revenue) Taxes on exports of GM soy used to subsidise internal markets for food (6% of all government revenue)

10 Key Regulatory Steps CONABIA: Evaluates agricultural and environmental impacts through trials CONABIA: Evaluates agricultural and environmental impacts through trials SENASA: Food safety evaluation SENASA: Food safety evaluation DNMA: Evaluates potential commercial impact focussing on export markets DNMA: Evaluates potential commercial impact focussing on export markets CONABIA makes final report CONABIA makes final report

11 GM Evaluations

12 GM Traits

13 Commercially Authorized GM Crops SoyNidera25/3/96 MaizeCiba-Geigy16/1/98 MaizeAgrEVO23/6/98 CottonMonsanto16/7/98 MaizeMonsanto16/7/98 CottonMonsanto25/4/01 MaizeNovartis27/7/01 MaizeMonsanto13/7/04 Maize Dow Sciences 15/3/05 MaizeSyngenta22/8/05 MaizeMonsanto28/8/07

14 Key features of regulatory system Power heavily concentrated in Secretary of Agriculture Power heavily concentrated in Secretary of Agriculture Minor role for Environment Secretary Minor role for Environment Secretary Product-based + substantial equivalence Product-based + substantial equivalence Weakly embedded legal nature: Resolutions based on administrative regulation, non- enforceable. Can avoid resort to Congress and Executive Weakly embedded legal nature: Resolutions based on administrative regulation, non- enforceable. Can avoid resort to Congress and Executive Mirror policy with EU: Only approving those events already approved in key export markets Mirror policy with EU: Only approving those events already approved in key export markets

15 The Organisation and Mobilisation of Industry ACA (Asociación de Cooperativas Argentinas) ACA (Asociación de Cooperativas Argentinas) ArgenBIO ArgenBIO ASA ( Asociación de Semilleros Argentinos) CAS (Cámara Argentina de Semilleros) ASA ( Asociación de Semilleros Argentinos) CAS (Cámara Argentina de Semilleros) FAB (Foro Argentino de Biotecnología) FAB (Foro Argentino de Biotecnología) ArPOV (Asociación Argentina de Protección de las Obtenciones Vegetales) ArPOV (Asociación Argentina de Protección de las Obtenciones Vegetales)

16 Intra and Inter-capital conflicts MNCs v Local firms: IPRs MNCs v Local firms: IPRs Place in supply chain: Commodity traders (Cargill etc) v Technology developers: Segregation, labelling, mirror policy Place in supply chain: Commodity traders (Cargill etc) v Technology developers: Segregation, labelling, mirror policy Differences in political strategies and lobbying styles Differences in political strategies and lobbying styles Differences in access and resources Differences in access and resources Divergent degrees of globality Divergent degrees of globality Associations and coalitions reflect these diverse interests in their policy positions Associations and coalitions reflect these diverse interests in their policy positions Able to achieve common ground on broader objectives Able to achieve common ground on broader objectives

17 Corporate Power in the Politics of Biotechnology in Argentina Material Power: Property Rights Property Rights –Conflicts between breeders rights and patent laws –Lack of enforcement of property rights claims; black market in seeds (now 80%-90% of market): State strategy? –Objections of US soybean growers associations –Legal conflicts, strategic litigation: blockades of cargo ships –Control of product and process Trade Trade –WTO case with Miami group against EU –Soja Maradona: Illegal seed trade to Brazil and Paraguay –Mercosur and biosafety: Argentina veto –Monsanto push to challenge China on dumping of glysophate

18 Corporate Power in the Politics of Biotechnology in Argentina Institutional Power Formal access to key committees through umbrella groups (ASA, FAB): CONABIA (6 govt, 6 private sector, 1 civil soc) Formal access to key committees through umbrella groups (ASA, FAB): CONABIA (6 govt, 6 private sector, 1 civil soc) Formal and informal consultations around regulations and policy controversies Formal and informal consultations around regulations and policy controversies Industry-led dialogues: Biotech breakfasts Industry-led dialogues: Biotech breakfasts Revolving door and lucrative job offers for bureaucrats Revolving door and lucrative job offers for bureaucrats Different coalitions have different degrees of access and influence with each Ministry Different coalitions have different degrees of access and influence with each Ministry Distinct bureaucratic cultures of Distinct bureaucratic cultures of engagement with business

19 Corporate Power in the Politics of Biotechnology in Argentina Discursive Power Government: Speeches, policy documents, publicity, seminars Government: Speeches, policy documents, publicity, seminars Media: Rural and Campo sections of two leading national dailies: Enormous advertising revenue Media: Rural and Campo sections of two leading national dailies: Enormous advertising revenue Media sponsorship of agribusiness expos Media sponsorship of agribusiness expos Extensive coverage given to policy demands Extensive coverage given to policy demands Virtual absence of critical reporting (Pagina 12) Virtual absence of critical reporting (Pagina 12)

20 Resistance? Pockets of resistance around: Deforestation, violent land dispossession, health and bio-safety concerns Pockets of resistance around: Deforestation, violent land dispossession, health and bio-safety concerns Centrality of GM as an accumulation strategy means it continues to be marginal Centrality of GM as an accumulation strategy means it continues to be marginal Global market access likely to continue to be a stronger shaper Global market access likely to continue to be a stronger shaper Producing new coalitions: Opponents in trade case now allies in legal challenge Producing new coalitions: Opponents in trade case now allies in legal challenge

21 Conclusions Unconventional story of biotech and development Unconventional story of biotech and development Demands nuanced understanding of firms as market, political and social actors Demands nuanced understanding of firms as market, political and social actors Links within, between and across firms Links within, between and across firms Connecting micro-politics of private agency with broader structures of power Connecting micro-politics of private agency with broader structures of power Interesting case study of business power and its limitations from global trade conflicts to use of seeds in farmers fields Interesting case study of business power and its limitations from global trade conflicts to use of seeds in farmers fields


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