, VI Conference of BRICS Initiative of Critical Agrarian Studies

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Between resistance and coexistence: agrobiodiversity on the margins of soybean in Brazil
Ludivine Eloy, Cláudia de Souza, Diana Nascimento, Mônica Nogueira, Henyo Barretto

Last modified: 2018-12-14


Indigenous and peasant agriculture ensure in situ conservation of agrobiodiversity in Latin America. In recent years, the rapid expansion of industrial agriculture, led by GM soybeans, threatens genetic and cultural diversity as well as the integrity of ecosystems, from the south to the north of the continent. The literature on soybean expansion frontiers of in Latin America shows, on the one hand, the mechanisms of exclusion of indigenous and peasant communities from their lands, and on the other hand, the forms of political resistance to these transformations, like agroecological transition movements. However, little is known about how and why indigenous and peasant communities reorganize in practice and day-to-day to coexist with soy, that is, to maintain and readapt their agricultural systems despite territorial losses and environmental degradation nearby soybean farms How the daily involvement of these communities with the different facets of the soybean economy influences the transformation of their productive systems and their agrobiodiversity? From three case studies in Brazil (Nonoai Indigenous Land -RS, prtoectes areas in western Bahia and Jalapão-TO), with different cultural contexts and agrarian histories, we show that the border of soybean is marked by interstices cultivated by indigenous and peasant communities, which represent islands of agrobiodiversity in a sea of ​​monocultures. This coexistence is manifested by the spatial proximity between industrial monoculture and swidden cultivation systems. It rests on diverse flows and interdependence between soybean farms and communities, but agrobiodiversity is a witness of the local resistance to the advancement of agribusiness. The lack of visibility and deskilling of agricultural practices in the interstices of soybean, as well as environmental deregulation, can lead to the complete homogenization of landscapes and genetic resources cultivated in the country, as well as the loss of knowledge relevant to food production and environmental management.


agribusiness; traditional ecological knowledge; agricultural systems