M.Pimbert – Transforming food and agriculture

The paper:

“Transforming food and agriculture: competing visions and major controversies” is available to download for free.

It compares and contrasts the mainstream and agroecological approaches to the transformation of food systems, analysing some of the principles the two models draw from.

This paper starts by briefly describing two contrasting models of development that seek to radically transform food, farming, and land use today [… and…] highlights some of the controversies and challenges associated with each of these two contrasting approaches to agri-food system transformation.

Pimbert, M. (2022). Transforming food and agriculture: Competing visions and major controversies. Mondes en développement, 199-200, 361-384. https://doi.org/10.3917/med.199.0365

Pimbert argues that the mainstream approach, and the technological innovations it promotes, “represent a truly fundamental rupture with previous agricultural practices”, exactly as argued by its promoters; however, they “show a remarkable historical continuity with the logic of capitalist accumulation”, with its principles of “uniformity, centralisation, privatisation, concentration of power, control and coercion.” (p. 363)

Agroecology, on the other hand, is “based on principles of diversity, decentralisation, distributed power, dynamic adaptation, and democracy”; its advocates “emphasise a radical transformation of the system for autonomy, mutualities of care, and democracy.” (p. 365)

The paper goes on to analyse the following core differences between the two models:

  • Modernity, technology and labour
  • Knowledge and ways of knowing
  • Nature-Based Solutions, global finance and the metabolic rift
  • Economic development vs economies of care
  • Governance, democracy and corporate capture

and concludes that a more democratic approach to defining visions for the future is desirable.