426.3 Agrochemicals, science and policy making: Contesting boundaries in Argentina

Friday, August 3, 2012: 9:20 AM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Florencia ARANCIBIA , Universidad de San Martin, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina
Argentina is the third world producer and exporter of genetically modified (GM) soy. The transgenic modification allows the field to be sprayed with glyphosate-based herbicide Round-up, killing all plant life except soy. The industry and the World Health Organization claim that glyphosate is safe for people and breaks down rapidly and harmlessly in the environment. But a large and growing body of scientific research challenges these statements. The widespread spraying of glyphosate on GM soy, often carried out from the air, has been linked to severe health problems for villagers and farmers. In 2009 an Argentine scientist and physician announced new research findings according to which glyphosate causes malformations in frog embryos, in doses much lower than those used in agricultural spraying.

Strong conflicts arouse in the country around this issue. Political struggle and scientific controversy converged in the same contentious arena. Peasants, neighbours, environmental movements, organized mothers as well as national and international associations of physicians, scientists, lawyers and intellectuals, challenged the Dominant Epidemiological Paradigm and joined the claim to ban the use of glyphosate. From a political process perspective, this paper analyses different types of “scientific activism” promoting the struggles as well structural obstacles faced in a “peripheral” context.  The paper draws on qualitative secondary data analysis and in-depth interviews.